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.

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.

16/11/15 – A typical day in the life of a foodie and travel bug

On the go once again. Originally, we’d had this almost-week off planned for going to Norway to primarily see the Northern lights, but unfortunately, that idea fell through because of expenses/travel times/not enough holiday, etc. Of course, we needed to find another way to fill that time (perish the idea of just spending my week off at home) so we hit the travel sites to try and find somewhere new to go. We went for our finding of a mini cruise to Amsterdam, as that killed two birds with one stone in being another new country to see and our first time on a cruise.

Since we’d gotten such a good deal on our impromptu trip, we decided to do the same thing we did when we went to the Isle of Wight and spend the night beforehand nearer to our boat destination to avoid any panics about getting there on time and accounting for traffic and whatnot. So after packing everything up and putting aside the spare forty minutes to watch new Walking Dead before leaving (Daryl heavy episode is definitely a good going away present), we popped into Asda and Gregg’s for a mix of snacks, alcohol and pasties for the food. Since I couldn’t decide between a sausage roll and a sausage, cheese and bean melt, I just had both. Life of a foodie.

It took us about two and a half hours to get to Hull. I was on DJ duty again with Kel driving, since I hadn’t fancied the idea of leaving my nice car for a few days in  random car park. We hit the musicals and Disney playlists for our usual duet sessions. I had to break out my completely brand new attempt at a Russian accent for my part of Vlad in one of the Anastasia songs. Let’s just say it’s a good thing we don’t do these in the company of other people. Wouldn’t want to risk offending an entire nation now.

We got to the Campanile Hotel, which I’d reckoned looked like a Mario house online. Turns out it’s the restaurant that looks like Mario house. The hotel itself looks like a full-on American motel. And of course, our room was upstairs. I thought we got past this stage a few years ago. Room was small and a little too cold to be cosy, so we put the heater on full blast and closed the curtains. We had to have a hunt to find an available plug socket, as everything seemed to be internally wired. We managed to establish that the only one we had was where the TV was plugged in. So we can either watch telly or charge something. Our choice.

Whilst Kel had a nap, I broke out the cookies, Doritos and Red Bull and started reading Jurassic Park. Since I’ve got NaNoWriMo going on this month, I want to primarily use my spare time for writing, but as my new project’s about dinosaurs, Jurassic Park works good as inspiration. Maybe a little too good though, since I got a bit carried away and ended up reading a third of it. This is why I shouldn’t be allowed near books, especially good ones. And damn, this is a good book. Why have I never read Michael Crichton works before?

When Kel came back to the land of the living, we headed over to the restaurant for some foods. I had a Magners and then some gammon with chips and a side of onion rings. Holy crap, it was a big side of onion rings. It was like what they tried to pull on me at TGI’s. All very lovely though. We had a natter and I spent a lot of the time watching a guy who looked a lot like Arthur Darvill and trying to establish if it was actually him or not. I eventually decided it wasn’t, as he’s Brummie and his accent sounded too far out.

After food, we retired back to our room for the night. I made attempts at writing, but kept getting distracted by what Kel was watching. Which was doubly annoying as they were all shows that I don’t even watch – I’m A Celebrity, Gogglebox, the news… People think I’m weird for not watching the news, but can you really blame me when it’s always so damn depressing and horrific? The attacks in Paris are just an awful, awful example of that.

We had a good natter about superhero stuff and just general gossip after we’d switched both the telly and the lights off. We do this a lot. Spend all day with each other, then only really wanna talk to each other when we’re trying to go sleep. Suppose it was just as well we weren’t that eager to get to sleep, since all the fucking birds were up and tweeting from about eleven o’clock anyway. Crazy birds; it’s goddamn night time.

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!

10/10/13 – The big apple

Woke up after more annoying dreams. I feel this is going to be the routine, at least for a while now. Weh. Skyped Mom whilst getting ready (she finally got her audio back, so we didn’t have to play charades anymore! Woohoo!) She told us that Nan had gotten our Graceland postcard and was really chuffed with it. Apparently it’s pride and place on the mantelpiece too! Special!

We caught out bus into New York and the first thing that snared us was a giant Disney store. It even had an upstairs! The only Lilo & Stitch thing I could find was an adorable Christmas ornament, so of course I had to get it. Sod the tree though – it’s going in my room! Got Theresa a new winter Belle too. We then walked through Central Park for a couple of hours. Feck me, it’s huge! We found a mini Beatles section, an Alice in Wonderland statue, one of Hans Christian Anders, and Balto’s memorial!! Safe to say we were most excited about that one.

Who else has seen the amazing Don Bluth movie inspired by Balto’s story? ❤

We did lunch at Applebee’s. I had chilli soup, honey pepper chicken tenders with fries, and some amazing red apple sangria that we discovered last year. Everything was lovely! We found the music in there appropriate because they played ‘I Think We’re Alone Now’ (sad times!) followed by ‘Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves’. They even played Erik Hassle, which I was definitely impressed by! They also had the most brilliant Halloween decoration – a moving ghost on a zip wire that would occasionally take trips around its circuit, making ridiculous noises. It was hilarious, we were crying!

As we were looking at a machine with broadway show information to try and decide which one we wanted to go for, a really camp waiter tried to help us out. He told us about a booth that sold discounted tickets all day. A girl came through as he was talking and he asked if she needed a table for one. She gave a very non-committal ‘yeah’ and just carried on in. We asked the guy if he wanted to go and serve her, rather than us taking up all his time, and he was just like ‘No! Not with that attitude!’ Too funny.

The ticket idea then didn’t pan out because they were still really expensive even when discounted (which was a shame because there was one with Zachary Levi in it!) But on the way to the booth we were stopped by a comedian called Dan Tamayo, I think, who totally reminded us of Jon Lovitz. He pegged us as ‘funny British people’ straightaway and gave us half price tickets to a stand-up comedy show for twenty dollars. He named all of the comedians, including Simon Amstell of all people! Of course we were definitely up for it, so he reserved us a couple of seats.

From there we went to the Rockerfeller Centre to check out the skyline view. Going up sixty-seven floors in the lift was pretty cool and the view really was quite good (thought I really thought everything just looked too crowded). Not to mention it was bloody freezing up there! We had some fun in the Breezeway Showcase room though. The wall and ceiling tiles light up, assigning a different colour to each person and reflecting their movements. So I had a green light following me round the room, even when I literally ran. Some Americans in there clearly thought I was crazy, but they at least seemed to find it funny. I hope.

Apparently green is my colour… I’ll take it.

After grabbing a yummy cinnamon pretzel we headed over to the comedy club. It was only very tiny, meaning our seats were pretty good. We soon learnt though that Dan had lied to us. I even asked one of the staff, but apparently Simon Amstell wasn’t playing at all. In spite of that though, it was still a great night. Every one of the comedians were very amusing – in particular we liked one called Michael Lawrence. He looked like Zach Galifianakis with glasses. He asked if there was anyone from Britain, so of course me and Kel woo’ed and he said we sounded like a pair of drunken ghosts (the image probably wasn’t helped by the fact that we had a bucket and six bottles of Magners in front of us). He then started going on about Voldemort and how we wouldn’t speak his name. Very amusing.

We were feeling a little merry by this point and had to grab food on the walk back to the bus station. I was craving cheesy chips, but didn’t really get to satisfy that craving. FYI America; cheese sauce is NOT the same as real cheese. I did like the crispy onion touch though, so I guess you saved yourselves a little. And to make things worse, when we got back we realised that the maids had been into our room and that Ed and Stitch had mysteriously disappeared! I rang the front desk but none of the staff were able to shed any light on the situation. And apparently the maid who’d cleaned our room didn’t start work till nine the following morning. This didn’t bode well because that was the time we needed to have checked out by in order to catch our coach. I was definitely not impressed.

Overall our New York experience had been pretty hectic. I’d never actually expected myself to be a fan of New York… and I was right. It’s like America’s version of London, only ten-fold. And we already know how much I dislike London. I found that New York was ridiculously busy, expensive, people on the streets hounded you for money over many various things (and were very pushy about it), the whole place looked dirty, all the crazy tall buildings were just too crammed together, and all the noises, sights and smells just felt like an assault on my senses. Central Park was the only nice area. Wouldn’t ever want to go back.