1/5/17 – Remember to dress appropriately

Got up and did the usual of going down to breakfast before coming back to do sun creams. We had a mild trauma though when I put my beach bag on my bed and a cockroach ran out and underneath my mattress! Serious eek! I obviously ran next door to get Dad, who pulled out all the sheets and it fell on the floor, where it thankfully met the underside of Dad’s shoe. Finding bugs in the room always sucks, but your bed is definitely the last place you want them. Because of the bug tizzy, it was after eleven by the time we got down to the pool. It was scorching, so we started off on some sunbeds in the shade. Throughout the day, I read half of my next Kinsey Millhone book. It really is good to be able to read in bulk again.

After a while, we decided we wanted to be in the sun, so we moved forward to some spare sunbeds and got the cocktails on the go. The oldies came back from shopping and we all had a dip in the shallow pool, where they have marble sunbeds built into the water. I had a lie on my front for a while to try and tan up my back, since I always end up darker on the front from sitting up and writing, but it wasn’t exactly the most comfortable. We went to lunch and the mash was starting to taste creamier again, still with lumps, only smaller. Looks like it’s on the road to recovery. They also had some tasty pork chops and beef escalopes in amongst the usual stuff.

It was back to the sunbeds afterwards. Started in the shade again for a bit, having collared the two different sunbeds, before moving back into the sun. Broke it all up with more reading, more dips in the pool and certainly more cocktails. Only problem with the pool is that the entirety of it is always in the sun and never in the shade, so it’s never as cool and refreshing as you want it to be and more like getting in a lukewarm-to-warm bath. Still better than just roasting though, obviously. Eventually went back up to the room to shower and rather than trying to get more pages in, I got some Clannad in instead. I like having this freedom to mix things up more.

Had to be ready a little earlier today, because we’d made reservations at the steak house, which is down on the beach, so we had to get the bus down. Dear God, I thought the mini bus to Chichen Itza was bumpy. This was like being on a rollercoaster. Didn’t help that my sear was clearly broken and I was stuck in the recline position practically over this nice Canadian woman’s lap. Let’s just say we were glad to reach the restaurant. First restaurant we’d had all holiday where everything is served at your table. The starters were a choice of shrimp cocktail and mozzarella sticks. I opted for the latter, because I don’t like shrimp cold and I freaking love mozzarella sticks. Sadly, the mozzarella wasn’t overly tasty and was overpowered by the breadcrumbs. Still nice, but not as good as I was expecting. I have high expectations of mozzarella sticks from fast food places on nights out.

Before the rest came, Mom then decided she wanted us all to go down onto the beach to take some photos. I wish I’d known that before I’d put on heels and a very short dress that meant I couldn’t bend down to take the heels off, even whilst sitting. So I had to hobble across the sand whilst tugging my dress down all the while. I’m sure I looked like a right Essex girl. Back to the table please. The main meal I chose was a tasty steak with potato wedges, a giant onion ring and a lovely garlic and parsley chimichurri sauce, then my pudding was an apple strudel with ice cream. Could have been a bit bigger, but then maybe I’ve been far too generous with my own portions at the buffet.

We made it back to the hotel bar just in time for the entertainment. Tonight’s was a Michael Jackson show. Holy hell, was it good. I mean, I could watch good MJ impersonators dance all day long, but this guy really was excellent. He even had all the mannerisms and the voice down, as well as the moves and especially that moon walk. They had other dancers on stage too, but even though they were all good, I don’t think anyone was watching them. Sorry other dancers, but MJ always rules the stage. My only disappointment was that he didn’t do the lean in Smooth Criminal, like they had at Coco Bongos, which I think raised the bar for me a little. Nobody had anything on his moon walk though.

Back to the rooms after the show to read and watch some more Clannad before bed. First day without writing a single word! It was nice to have the little break after having to keep it up so hardcore, but I’ll probably get back on it, because I really do feel like something’s missing from my day if I haven’t written anything. We watched a bit of James Corden and had some serious British enjoyment that no American would understand over a little girl pretending to knight Nigel Farage and then telling him “my mommy says you hate foreigners”. I hate kids, but this is one kid even I can get behind. Pure gold.

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This little guy decided to join us for a cheeky bevvie. (They will have your drinks if you don’t watch them!)

27/4/17 – Just a few mishaps

Latest get-up yet, at just after nine. Had to hurry a little to get ready as breakfast finishes at ten. At least that was the plan. The oldies had already gone down to eat, so we were still catching up. On the way over, we found a giant bearded dragon type lizard on the rocks in front of the lobby – had honestly thought he was a statue when we saw the shape of him the other day – so I stopped to take pictures of him. Just as I was walking away, I tripped up the kerb a little. Kel was busy laughing at me and then full on fell in a hole in the grass and twisted her ankle. Now that was definitely Jesus at work. I ran down to the breakfast hall to let the oldies know about the hold up. Dad took Kel a makeshift ice pack and then we helped her down to breakfast before it closed.

Dad came round with me when I was getting food and I had to pick out things that Kel would want for him to put on a plate. I got a cheese quesadilla, sauteed potatoes, bacon, frankfurtas and nachos for myself, followed by a pancake with strawberry syrup and a waffle quarter with Nutella. After breakfast, I helped Kel to find some sunbeds, then went back to the room to sun cream up, pack both our beach bags and take them down to the pool. Kel did her sun cream in the toilets.

Even though it was cloudy most of the day, it was still over thirty degrees and very humid. The sun would come out for brief spurts throughout the day and when it did, it was scorching hot. Had to have quite a few dips in the pool (and even more margaritas and strawberry daiquiris) to cope. I was finding it difficult to concentrate on writing in the heat, so I read more instead. Took great amusement in watching the aqua gym in the pool, mostly because of two young American guys who were getting far too into it, particularly when they had to do races of carrying each other bridal style. Very amusing.

We broke for lunch and I had the usual suspects. Mm nearly died when I accidentally flicked my fork across the table and thew lots of rice at Kel in the process. Oops. This kind of stuff happens to me, alright? Back out to the sun for more reading and attempts at writing. I fold my notebook in half when I’m writing, so I didn’t really want to rest it on my sweaty legs. Managed to get some pages done though. A bit later on, after more cocktails, me and Kel decided we wanted to try out the snack bar – probably because it was right behind us. Had some fries and some nachos with cheese sauce, mmm. Sadly, couldn’t sit by the pool with it, so had to rejoin the oldies after we’d eaten.

Came back up to the room after to shower and furiously write some more pages in between getting ready. I also tried to do myself a vodka and lemonade from the optics, but it was so strong that I barely drank any of it. In the fridge for later, methinks! Tea was pretty much the usual routine, followed by joining the bar area afterwards for some drinks and entertainment. Unfortunately, the entertainment was a bit tragic. It was a mariachi band, who didn’t look at all happy to be there and just kept going on and on. They’d announce the last song, then they’d just keep playing. They did it three times before we decided to give up and go back to the rooms.

Me and Kel were much happier fending for ourselves in the room and watched a bunch of Improv-a-Ganza clips on my iPod, particularly New Choice ones. God, I miss this show. Kel then watched some of James Corden’s show, whilst I half watched and half wrote before bed. It’s still weird that he’s so big over here. He’ll always be Smithy to us, but sadly, Americans would never get the pure comic genius of Gavin and Stacey.

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Big fat lizards are otherwise known as omens of falling over.

25/4/17 – From one extreme to another

We were woken up at five by what had to be the coaties making a real racket outside. Suddenly not so cute! We were up so early that we had to wait a few hours for breakfast to even open. Safe to say that’ll be the only time this happens all holiday. It was totally worth it though. We thought the buffet selection in Gran Canaria was big, but that was nothing compared to this. I ended up with a crazy mix of chicken taco, cheese quesadilla, two different kinds of nacho mix, Cajun potatoes, bacon and sausage. Fresh frozen watermelon juice on the side, followed by pineapple juice and then a chocolate muffin. Now this is what I call a breakfast.

After eating, we popped back up to the room to sun cream up and then caught the bus down to the beach. They have another Riu Lupita there that is obviously linked to us, so free drinks and food all round! Sat out on the beach for a little while and did some reading. Most beautiful beach I’ve ever been on – the sea was the most spectacular shade of turquoise. It was incredibly hot though and unrelenting without a breeze. Not good when you can’t even go into the sea to cool off, like me. Luckily, there was more beach area behind that surrounded a swimming pool. Much better. So I moved back up there, where there was also more of a breeze.

Sitting further back put me closer to the bar too, which is always a bonus. I had a quick lemonade to cool down and was soon back up there for a margarita instead. Sooo good to sit on the beach with. Would you believe it was more refreshing than the lemonade? Carried on reading, broken by another margarita and a dip in the pool, which was lush. Everyone else moved up to join me after an hour or so and then we soon broke for lunch. Pork, steak and chicken fajitas, chips and that wonderful oily rice I love so much that s many countries do, but can never get it at home. Team all of that with a Melonball cocktail and you’ve got a pretty damn good lunch.

Back down to our little poolside beach for another three margaritas (what? I’m on holiday), more reading and another dip in the pool. The CD playing from the speakers was mostly a lot f bad covers of great songs, bar Fall Out Boy’s MJ cover, but we did hear a Spanish version of Bohemian Rhapsody, which was hilarious as it sings “madre, oooooh”. Madre is what we always call Mom, so the humour was strong with us. We eventually left the beach around half four and got the bus back up to the hotel. I jumped straight in our wonderful walk-in shower.

After showering, I wrote a couple of pages and listened to my movie soundtrack playlist, then conceded to drying my hair and starting to get ready. That was when disaster struck. I’d only straightened about a third of my hair when the lights started flickering and my straighteners started beeping like crazy. I tried them in another plug, as well as another adaptor, and the exact same thing happened. The voltage on my straighteners was far too high for the mains – something I’ve never had happen in any country ever. I went down to reception to see if they had some kind of converter for the coltage or even a communal pair of straighteners I could borrow, but no such luck. Needless to say, I had a bit of a meltdown. Anyone who knows me knows how freaking insecure I am, particularly over my hair. I’d give up my phone before I’d give up my straighteners. But there was nothing I could do. I had to just continue getting ready and go out with my stupid big hair. Not a happy bunny.

We went to a different restaurant for tea. This one was in the same hall as breakfast and all served buffet style. I had nachos with habanero sauce, pulled spicy chicken, mash with bacon bits and more of that lovely rice. My earlier tizzy had given me a really bad head, so I abstained from anymore alcohol. We sat down to watch the nightly show, which was basically a lot of dancers in frilly outfits. I was suddenly so worn out, I could barely keep my eyes open. Maybe because of being up at five, but probably again because of my having a meltdown.

So I went to bed before anyone else, which only ever happens when I have work early. Having real insecure moments just makes me totally spiral downwards, so here’s hoping I’ll feel better after a good sleep.

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This is how you do mornings.

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.

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?

24/9/13 – Settling in

Body clock’s out of whack and still on British time, so I ended up getting up crazy early. Watched some more Tsubasa and unpacked our clothes to kill some time. We very slowly got ready and went down to the pool for a couple of hours. Came back up to the room around eleven-ish for our Skype date with Mom! Her camera wasn’t working and the sound was quite temperamental too, but it was still nice to get to talk to her.

Headed back down to Denny’s for lunch and had some loaded fries and then cinnamon pancake puppies. Both very yummy! Then went to the strangest supermarket to grab some pop. They played some bizarre classical music and most of the aisles smelt of hamsters. I did get a small tub of Apple Jacks to try though (which I’ve obviously wanted to do for ages) and they’re so good! I don’t eat cereal because I hate milk, so I just ate them like a bag of crisps!

Went back down to the pool again for another few hours. The sun had disappeared behind the massive hotel opposite, so we chose some sunbeds and waited it out. As soon as the sun did appear it was then swallowed up by the biggest black cloud that had come out of nowhere. Typical. We then had a huge clap of thunder that scared the crap out of Kel and it suddenly started raining. A lot. So we escaped back to our room. Had another quick Skype session with Mom and a longer one with Theresa. Then sat eating Apple Jacks and watching Adventure Time whilst waiting for the rain to stop (James would be proud).

Had tea at Tony Roma’s. Kel pointed out a pineapple cocktail that of course I had to have. Was lovely but I soon discovered it was non-alcoholic! Washed it down with a proper Cosmopolitan though, which made it all better. The manager then gave us two green blocks and the challenge to make a pyramid out of them for a free appetiser. Safe to say we failed. He still gave us the voucher prize though. Win!

On our return to hotel after food. Me “playing up” on the luggage thing!