23/9/16 – We’re gonna need a bigger boat

Usual early up and get ready to get the rest of our stuff packed. Only this time I had to get Mom to try and help me put my hair into pigtails. That was fun, since Mom is nowhere near as perfectionist as Kel, which is what I want when it comes to my hair. Safe to say it took a few tries. We then loaded up the car and went off on our way further down the Keys. Once again, the drive was beautiful. Had to go across several long bridges and at a few points, the road narrowed out so much that we were driving the with the sea right on either side of us. Apparently one side if the Gulf of Mexico and the other is the Atlantic, but I’m rubbish at geography, so I couldn’t tell you for sure without Googling. Either way, the water was so incredibly still and flat that you could see the sky reflected in it to a point where you couldn’t tell where one left off and the other began.

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Now that’s scenery!

We stopped off at a Walgreen’s because Mom said that Auntie Lynne had requested us to bring back a specific toothpaste, of all things. I ended up having another mad shop when I found more DC stuff and bought a Harley Quinn makeup bag and lipstick, a mini Deadpool plushie and more Red Bull, of course. We then didn’t get much further down the road before stopping at an IHOP for brunch. Now this is what I’m talking about. I had to have my usual country omelette – ham, cheese, onion and has browns – with a side stack of pancakes and plenty of strawberry sauce. I also had a lemonade mixed with lime and mango syrup. Yum yum.

We made the rest of the drive uninterrupted down to our room in Key West. Another really cute place. Our ‘hotel’ building is like a small collection of massive houses with a pool and lots of front and side porches with swinging chairs on them. However, it’s also the first room where we haven’t got a fridge and we have a lot of drinks to chill. Thankfully, there was an ice machine out by the pool, so I did the first trip to fill up the ice bucket and then try to fit as many drinks in as possible. We had a quick settle into the room before going off to explore.

First off, I felt like I was in a Zelda game, because there were escaped chickens just randomly around on the streets – and some baby chickens, aahh. We headed on straight down towards the harbour. We walked past a pool party where a guy and girl were fully recreating the dance-off scene from White Chicks with Run DMC playing and everything. It was hysterical. Of course, technophobic me didn’t know how to find the video camera on my phone, so by the time I did start recording, they were just finishing. I need a tutorial for my phone, even after a month of having it.

We stopped off at the Key West Lime Shoppe for key lime pie and a lime slushie, mmm. Gotta have things where they originate from. We sat in a nice little courtyard with a koi pond. The shop itself was really cute. They did lots of lime flavoured sweets, sticks of rock, soaps, drink making kits… It helped that they were playing Red Solo Cup too. I sand along whilst Mom bought a proper, easy-use lime crusher so that we can make even better margaritas back home. We have our priorities straight. From there, we had a wander down the harbour, right along the waterfront. It didn’t have the same fishing village type feel as Key Largo, as it was much busier. Still totally welcome atmosphere though. Buzzing, but not crowded, not like poor new Bourbon Street.

We took great enjoyment in watching some very exotic fish along the edge of the harbour and that was where the excitement then came in. We saw more wrasse and Sergeant Majors, some electric blue wrasse-like fish, big fat jellyfish, a beautiful blue and yellow angelfish and some giant, giant tarpin. We saw a huge one lurking in the shallows and looking super evil before it disappeared under the dock. We were trying to point another one out to Mom, who couldn’t see as well, and then the show-off flashed all the silver on its side, right under the surface of the water. It was four foot long! But then whilst we were distracted waiting to see if it would surface again, Dad spotted a seven-foot nurse shark, right under our feet! Talk about seeing something exciting in the wild.

We headed back up one of the strips from there. Saw a Senor Frogs, which made me giggle as it makes me think of Impractical Jokers, as well as a shop that had a lurid pineapple design painted across the window that looked totally Psych-esque, as well as lots of real pineapples in the window. I went in all excited, but then they didn’t actually have anything pineapple themed that they sold. Boo the false advertising. On the way back to the hotel, we walked alongside a huge cemetery that was all built above the ground like Lafayette. It seems to be a real imitation of New Orleans here. They do Creole cuisine, have several bars named after Bourbon Street and some of them even do Hurricanes. Not sure why the similarities are there when the places aren’t even close.

We got back to shower and get ready. I broke out my last Mike’s Hard Lemonade that I’d managed to cool some in the ice bucket, which I then had to down on the way because the oldies suddenly put a speed on and were ready to go. We went to a nearby Peruvian restaurant called Inca’s. We really are getting around. Our server Jessica was so lovely and shared drunk sangria stories with us when we ordered a pitcher. For food, I had Peruvian styled fried rice, which was rice fried with chicken, spring onion and some kind of salty, soy tasting sauce. God, it was so good. I scarfed literally every single grain.

We all agreed none of us wanted to walk past the cemetery again in the dark, so we headed off towards one end of the town, which is actually the most southerly point of the states. However, when we realised how long of a walk it was, we changed our minds and hit a bar instead. Big mistake. The moment I walked in, it was very easy to tell that it was a smoking bar. Good god, it was disgusting. I hate the lack of smoking bans here. I had to breathe through my mouth the entire time I was in there, so I passed on having a drink as I wouldn’t be able to taste it. I actually went to stand outside for a while for some fresh air, but when the same middle-aged guy somehow found a way to walk past me three times and told me twice that I was “too cute to be out there by myself”, I swiftly decided to go back in and watch the oldies play pool and just go back to mouth-breathing. It was actually quite funny when Dad then ended up playing some crazy woman from Kentucky.

Came back to the room after that and did some more planning for the trip going forward. I then read some more Shock Wave and broke open the Seagrams before bed. The next move is afoot.

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The fake Psych shop that lied to me.

20/9/16 – I’m meeelting!

Got up after my most uncomfortable sleep so far. The bed itself was fine; it was just the first time I’ve felt really hot in the night. Clearly we need to have the noisy air con on through the night here. Had a pretty slow getting ready as we had to wait for the landlord Lydia, who wanted to come round just to say hi and give us some recommendations on where to go for food and where the beach was. Of course, we’d already found all of that out for ourselves last night. Watched some Suits, got suncreamed up and into my new bikini, then we were ready to go.

The beach doesn’t have any parasols or sunbeds – you have to bring that kinda thing yourself. Thankfully, we’d found some beach chairs in the cupboard that can recline, so we brought those down with us. It was ridiculously hot with no sign of a breeze. I couldn’t seem to get comfy in the chair or lying on a towel on the sand. I did have fun finding the tiniest, perfect little seashells though, as well as watching the adorable piper birds. Totally made me think of the little Pixar short they showed before Finding Dory.

We did have a bit of drama when somebody came down the beach shouting, “Get out of the water!” At first, I thought he was joking – maybe it’s just Brits who’d joke about that kind of thing –  but he kept on going, “I’m serious; get out of the water! It could be a manatee or it could be a shark.” Of course, by that point, everyone in the water had got out and the rest of us had ran down to the water’s edge to get a better look. Sure enough, there was a big black shape moving along the line of the shore and very close to where people had been swimming. Part of it broke the surface a couple of times and it turned out it was a giant manta ray, wow. Never seen one of those in the wild before. It really was huge too.

After the excitement, I pretty much started to die in the sun. It really was harsh without a breeze and I usually love lying in the sun more than pretty much anything. I’d already finished the drink I’d brought with me long ago, so I was very relieved when Mom and Dad suggested going for lunch. I wasn’t even hungry – always a sure sign that I’m flagging in one way or another – I just wanted a drink and some air con. Not much to ask for.

We ended up in Burgers ‘n’ Shakes, which had the poorest air con in the whole of America. Typical. I ordered cheesy fries and should have known that when it came, it’d be cheese sauce, rather than actual cheese. Americans need a few lessons in what real cheesy fries are, methinks. Though to be fair, I really didn’t care much about my food and just ate mechanically. I was much more in the drinks machine that was one of those machines that has hundreds of drink options. I tried and quickly poured away a lime Fanta, which tasted very much like Coke for some reason (hate Coke), before moving to the strawberry and fruit punch flavoured Hi C. I definitely made the most of my $2.50 by pounding two drinks there and then taking another to-go back to the beach.

Thankfully, there was a little more of a breeze when we got there and with thunderstorms looming, but never actually breaking out over us other than the odd clap of thunder, the sun actually went in for a while. I never thought I’d be happy about that, but I was able to read, write and watch some Psych in a lot more comfort. On the morning, I’d been so hot that I hadn’t had a hope of concentrating on anything other than the fact that I was melting. The sun came back out later, but it was cooler by then, which was very welcome.

After another several hours on the beach, we decided to head back, stopping off at Walgreen’s to get snacks and pop for the room. One of my cosplay girls had actually shared a picture of some Harley Quinn makeup brushes on Facebook last night with the original caption saying they were only available at Walgreen’s, of all places. Of course, I knew I was very close to one, so I was ready to go on the hunt. I actually found lots of Harley Quinn, Wonder Woman, Batgirl and Catwoman based makeup, as well as a really adorable Beauty and the Beast eye shadow set. I ended up getting the Harley brushes as a present for Emi – whenever I see her next – since I don’t use blusher or anything myself, then got my own Harley makeup box that actually had red eye shadow. Red! You never get red eye shadow anywhere! Teamed the buy with some Funyuns and more Powerade.

Had a very slow shower and get ready, because it was still far too hot. Discovered I’ve crazy burnt my legs and stomach. Oops. We then had a mild trauma when Mom decided to put a wash on and twenty minutes in, the washing machine started pouring water out on the floor. Double oops. Lydia had to call someone out to try and service it. Still didn’t quite figure out what was wrong with it, but we at least got to finish washing the clothes that were already in there and get them in the dryer. We seem to be a family that break things on holiday. I’ve broken beds, curtains and hairdryers in the past and the oldies don’t have a much better history.

After that was out of the way, we headed out for food and found ourselves in a big Portuguese diner type place called Manola. Our waiter was sweet; he looked like the love child of Richard Ayoade and Gok Wan. He told us he’d actually been to the UK himself – to London and then Aberdeen, of all places. Even I’ve not been to Aberdeen. Me and Mom shared another lovely, huge pitcher of sangria and I then had twin grilled chicken breasts in a creamy green onion sauce with mash on the side. Damn, it was good. I’m loving all this South American cuisine. I think a tour of South America needs to be next on the travel list. I already want to see Mexico and Colombia in particular.

We popped into Lou’s Beer Garden on the way back, which was actually part of someone’s hotel – you follow the side of it down to the courtyard and bar area. I had an Amalfi Sunset, which was Grey Goose vodka (never say no to Grey Goose), aperol, grapefruit and lemon juice, agave nectars and bitters. Very strong, but sour cocktails always cancel that out nicely. Came back to the room after to cane several Mike’s Hard Lemonade, whilst watching more Psych on my iPod, as well as glancing up every now and then to catch the John Leguizamo parts in some awful Amy Poehler film that the oldies were watching. Back to the beach again tomorrow. A little heavier on the breeze this time, yeah?

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Now that’s a beach!

18/9/16 – Lost that loving feeling

Up not quite as early as the last few mornings. We still had time for breakfast, so I just got dressed and brushed my hair before going down this time. Cue more pancakes and sausages. I also spent an age trying to catch a really far away Golbat on Pokémon Go. After using more than half of my Pokéballs, I had to just give up. Stupid Golbat. Came back up to the room after to straighten my hair and get ready properly, whilst Mom browsed things that we could do on the internet. I suggested the Audobon Aquarium and the reviews were good, so we headed on down to the riverfront.

I actually really like aquariums. I got a lot of good pictures, thanks to the lovely camera on my nice new phone. There was lots to see. Plenty of general tanks, obviously, walk-through tunnels, sharks, giant turtles, seahorses – I looove seahorses – jellyfish, frogs, alligators, a giant otter called Clara – seriously, I thought it was a seal at first – penguins and of course, manta rays. I love those guys. Spent a while around the touch pool so I could give them some fuss. I just love how friendly they always seem. I even got two different sized manta ray teddies from the gift shop afterwards. Come on, I have a tattoo of manta rays for a reason.

Unsurprisingly, we were hungry when we got out, so we went back to the Market Café for lunch. I decided to try the traditional Creole red beans and rice with andouille sausage. Can’t quite put my finger on what it reminded me of, but it was nice. I also helped Dad out with some of the fried shrimp from his po-boy. I’m really picky with seafood so I’m always loathed to order that kind of thing in case I don’t like it, but they were really good. It was pretty much just like having fresh scampi. Never a bad thing.

We decided to check out Bourbon Street in the daytime, since I had actually been quite horrified by the other night because of how busy it was – more like Broad Street than Bourbon Street. However, I was still incredibly disappointed. Mid afternoon and it was completely dead. Where were all the jazz musicians and the happy spirited people partying in the street? Hoping it would pick up with time, we stopped off at the Bourbon O Bar for drinks. I had a Drew Brees(y) Big Easy, which was rum, grapefruit vodka, triple sec, lemon juice, cranberry juice and syrup. Damn, it was good. It came in a cute cup decorated to look like an American football too. Whilst we were in there, we took great entertainment in watching a guy outside who was wearing nothing but pants and holding a cardboard sign saying “spank me, one dollar”. Worst, or best, thing is he’ll probably make more than any of the other buskers.

We carried on down Bourbon Street afterwards and although the crowds had indeed picked up, it was still not quite what I’d hoped for. At some point over the last three years, it seems to have lost all of its culture and just become a big party holiday spot. Bourbon Street has always been about the partying, but in a high spirited, always rocking street party kind of way; not just the getting rowdy and pissed up outside kind of way. They didn’t have any musicians or even play any jazz at all. They just blasted chart music from the open bars. Really, incredibly sad for me. I classed New Orleans as my most favourite place in the world since my last visit and Bourbon Street was a huge part of the reason behind that. Now I’m not sure I’d even be fussed about seeing the street again. A horrific change to what used to be such a fascinating, cultural and highly unique place. Now it’s just the American Malia.

We headed back to the hotel to start packing, since we have our flight to Miami in the morning. I had my usual Red Bull whilst doing so and fit my shower in around it, as well as finishing off my Anita Blake book. After getting ready, we came back down to the Gumbo Shop for the last time – and it probably really will be the last time, since the touristy changes have me not feeling the need to come back. At least not any time in the near future. Of course, had to have the gumbo again, along with some garlic mash and a cocktail called Blue Bayou, consisting of vodka, blue curacao and pineapple juice. Nice, but so strong yet again. Americans, I love alcohol, but you really need to sort your measurements out. Eight percent alcohol is too much over tea.

We went to Bar Medoras afterwards, since we’d seen that they did sangria. I actually had a Purple Pride Punch first – vodka, raspberry and blackberry liqueurs, pineapple juice and Hurricane mix – before helping Mom out with her blackberry sangria. Yummy all round. We tried another bar afterwards, but they were closed from half nine – what madness is this?! You’re a bar, for crying out loud! – so we went to a place called Creole House instead. I had a Mississippi Madness, which was rum, liqueur, pineapple and orange juices and grenadine. Definitely a nice and refreshing cocktail to go out on.

Came back to the hotel to finish packing up everything before bed, since we have an early start in the morning. My second trip to New Orleans really has been very different to the first. I’ll miss the food here and the lovely cocktails, but I can’t stop stressing how I won’t be missing the changed atmosphere. Not now. Three years ago, I would have. Guess that’s what tourism can do to a place.

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Cuddly seahorses!

1/10/15 – Last day on Gran Canarian soil

We got up, got semi dressed and went down to breakfast first, this time. Why have we not been doing this the whole holiday? Had my usual sausage, bacon, chips and cheese and ham toasted thing. It was the last one and I actually ran for it, so I felt I deserved it. Cath caught us at breakfast and told me off for not wearing something pineapple-y. Apparently I’ve gotta that reputation as the pineapple girl that I was kind of expecting. Guess that’s better than my reputation as the drink that I got on our trek in America. Though that one became apparent this time too, as Cath was surprised at how much I’d been drinking in the day, every day. Eh, I’m on holiday. We wanted to leave some time to do some more packing after breakfast before we went down to the pool. Kel had already spoken to the guy on reception to see if we could keep our room on for a few more hours, which was fine. We primarily did it just to keep the all inclusive going, as we figured they’d cut our wristbands off as soon as we checked out.

Once we only had a few necessities for the day left out, we suncreamed up and headed down to the pool. We were given more word searches to do. This one was much easier than the last. I did that and then another short story. Patrik tried to convince me to join the aqua gym by sitting on the end of my sunbed, facing me, and doing his stretches. I must have an iron will if I can resist that. I really didn’t want to get wet though, as I won’t be able to shower or do anything with my hair later on, once we lose access to our room.

Instead, we got roped into the paper plane game. Surprisingly, this was the one activity that got most people to join in – over forty of us altogether! All to play with paper planes. We were each given a sheet of paper and told to make a plane with it. That was a challenge in itself as I’ve never even made one before. I’ve always gotten other people to make them and then give them to me to play with. I tried my best to make mine aerodynamic, but when it came to us all lining up and taking turns to throw them, mine just insisted on going nowhere but down. At least mine was more awesomely decorated than anyone else’s – I’d written Thunderbird 3 on the back of the wing. The Barry/Murr guy almost landed his in the outdoor shower, which was funny as you had to stand where your plane landed, so he was practically standing in the shower. One guy even had to stand in the pool when his went really off course. Gutted.

We then went for our last inclusive meal of the trip. So sad. I bid goodbye to the rice, pizza, chips, beef with champagne sauce, lasagne-less pasta and some new garlic potato cubes that I really hadn’t gotten the time to know. I did my last bid to get drinks in before we checked out, so I ran down to the pool bar to grab another sangria and cocktail and left them on the table by our sunbeds. We then brought the cases down, put them in a storage room for safe keeping as we don’t get picked up till later and checked out. Apparently my drinks preparations had been futile – they didn’t take off our wristbands or say anything about the all inclusive ending. Happy days!

I went back to my shade after that. I didn’t want to risk the sun and getting sweaty because of the whole no shower thing. I don’t wanna be that icky person. Joel caught us and got us to go join Patrik for the new rifle shooting activity. Now this is an activity I can get behind! I did feel a bit stupid holding a giant rifle in my bikini and big sunglasses though – the kind of look you’d expect to be all sexy badass, but this was me, so it wasn’t. But it turned out I was pretty good at the shooting part. Even Patrik was like, “Who are you?” My first shot went wild before I got the hang of it, but I quickly got the highest score and also the first bulls-eye. Boo-yah! Nerf guns, eat your heart out!

Did more reading and chilling in the shade afterwards. Also watched some bits of Arrow on my iPod. Ah Brandon Routh, you are a pretty, pretty man. Eventually, I conceded that it was probably time to sort out my appearance at least a little before eating. Had to pop in and out of the room where the luggage was being held (more so than I should have needed to, because I was stupid and kept forgetting things) and got changed and did a bit of makeup in the toilets downstairs. It was actually just a horrible ordeal, as it was really hot in there, so I tried to be quick about it.

We then went for food around six, pleased that we got an extra meal more than we’d been expecting. Bonus meal! The evening menu has a split earlier on and they seem to serve different foods for each half. We’d obviously never been down to eat this early, so it was all new to us. Was initially horrified to see that they had a yellow rice rather the usual amazing rice, but then it turned out it just tasted exactly the same anyway. You deceived me, rice; well played. Also had some salted potatoes with the Gran Canaria sauce, some pork and crackling (wow), chips, a chicken drumstick and some chicken and chickpea stew, which was super yummy.

No entertainment room tonight. We hung out in the lobby instead, so we could see what was going on and if our coach turned up. We had our free cocktail to share that we’d won from the movie quiz. It was called a San Francisco (woo!) No idea what was in it, but it was nice and sweet. I made the most of my last sangria before switching to pop. I really don’t wanna be drunk on the plane or, worse, risking a migraine from lack of hydration. Sadly, we didn’t get to see Joel, Patrik or Marek before leaving. It was an awkward time in between when they’re clearly usually getting ready before the entertainment slots have to start. Sad times. But at least we have their Facebook details. The practicality of the modern age.

The transfer was a bit horrific. It had been alright up until the last pick-up, then about fifteen people got on and every one of them had a child with them, all of which were screaming and crying and shouting. It was like hell got on the coach. I was surprised I wasn’t screaming and crying and shouting too. To make things worse, the girl sat behind me could not stop complaining. Everyone who knows me knows that I actually really, really hate kids, but no way do I ever go on that much about it. Sh was actually causing more of a fuss than the kids and the kids really were making a fuss. Her and her mom were clearly not the kind of people you want around though anyway. Soon found out that they robbed a mirror from a club and were trying to get it through security. I secretly hoped that they weren’t allowed.

Checking in was a real ball-ache, as there were loads of us and then hardly any people behind the desks. The plus side was that we were told our flight was gonna be half an hour early. Getting through security was brief, though I did get swabbed for explosives again! Why me, guys? Do I look that dodgy? Once we were through, we grabbed some drinks for on the plane and I bought a big bottle of citrus Grey Goose from duty free. I’m calling in my early birthday present to myself. Since I asked people for vodka anyway, that’s just like skipping a step. No seriously, I really did ask for vodka for my birthday. I’ll get more use out of that than a gift card for New Look.

We got on the plane and had a bit of a mix up with an older couple who had misread their tickets and were in our seats. They were completely fine about it and the man apologised, saying it was their fault, to which the woman corrected that it was just his fault. She gets how it works. I watched the Psych musical on my iPod to clear some time. It was funny because at one point, even though Kel obviously couldn’t hear it, she could see Shawn’s mouth moving and knew exactly that he was doing the ololololololol hoo-de-hoo hoo-de-hoo bit that she loves from Santa Barbara Skies. Well done, Kel.

After Psych, I watched several episodes of Impractical Jokers. Those guys never fail to make me laugh. I then listened to the Galavant soundtrack, did a little writing and a little reading, then thankfully, we were coming in to land. I’d been getting really tired, but I hate trying to sleep on the plane because it always makes me feel really bleugh and out of it. Which probably would have been made worse by the fact that I’d still pretty much been drinking all day. Getting through passport and baggage control on the other side was pretty quick, thank god. We grabbed a black cab from outside and found ourselves with a very chatty, travel-savvy driver. Awesome.

When we got home, I saw that Dad had put the hard top on my car for me. Aww. I guess we left the sun behind in Gran Canaria for the rest of the year. Would absolutely go back though and recommend our hotel to anyone. Great food, great drink, great place and great crowd. First shot at all inclusive was an absolute success too. For now though, I have to concede to grey old England. We got into the house and, of course, Izzy was very eager to get into my bedroom. She got onto my bed before I did and immediately took up all the room. Home, sweet, home, I guess.

One fancy cocktail to see us off!

One fancy cocktail to see us off!

30/9/15 – Let me entertain you

Could not get Kel out of bed this morning. I let her sleep in a bit longer, saying we could forego breakfast for brunch instead. I floated around from happy Psych dreams all morning. Read some and started another short story before I convinced Kel to get up properly, saying we needed to make the most of the sun on our last full day. We went straight to brunch as soon as she was ready. Ham and cheese toastie, hot dog, chicken nuggets and chips. Yes, I’m aware I’m very greedy, but that is just my life.

It turned into another very hot day again, yay. Finished my short story and wrote another whilst sitting in the sun. Also read more and then spent time trying to even up the tan on my back more. My front always gets tanned more because I spend my time in the sun reading and writing whilst sat up, whereas I don’t do anything lying on my front and I tend to get bored quickly that way. I like to feel more productive. In this case though, I ended up having a little snooze whilst I was sunbathing. Oops. We’d had to grab sunbeds on a different side of the complex, as all the ones on and around the decking had already been taken, so this time we had a different pool to go and dip in. We still stuck to the balcony part of it and ended up talking to an older couple from Cambridge. The woman was some kind of PA and the man was a retired police officer. Told you; interesting jobs!

This pool didn’t seem as incredibly cold as all the others, so it was easily our longest stint of chilling in the water. We eventually got out though, so we could dry off before going into the food hall. Rice, garlic potatoes, lasagne and some creamy stroganoff. Still unsure if I liked the latter or not. After lunch, I had an hour or so of having to switch between sun, shade and dipping in the pool. It was just so hot. After about four o’clock though, it died down enough to stay sitting in it comfortably. Of course, I soon reached my point of needing Red Bull, so I broke back to the apartment for the usual.

After showering, I wore my light pineapple skater dress. I always leave this one towards the end of my holiday, because it has a large cut out in the middle, so it looks really odd with a white belly. Thankfully, my belly isn’t too red anymore either, so it worked out nicely. Food was rice, pizza, chips, the sliced potatoes were back (yay), a creamy type of paste that tasted like lasagne without the meat, another kind of stroganoff that was less creamy and much nicer than the one at lunch, then some croquettes that were apparently made with chicken. The inside was very creamy and mushy and kinda like the filling you get in a vol-au-vent, but it definitely didn’t taste like chicken. Still liked them though.

Grabbed more drinks and moved next door for our best entertainment yet. It was a participation event, aimed to find the Mr. IFA Continental. They managed to get five guys to volunteer and then gave them various tasks to complete to win, like how many press-ups they could do in a minute. Three of them were Brits, all of whom we’d seen around the complex already – this included crazy Steve, who is actually the older Curt Smith I spotted early on – an Irish man and a German guy. All of them were clearly very much up for a laugh, which is exactly what you want from your entertainment and also just from people in general. Though maybe that’s just me.

One game involved twenty-five balloons being handed out to us in the audience. We had to just wave them around and the guys had to see how many they could grab before time was up. As one of them ran past, it knocked the balloon out of my hands and onto the table next to me, where an old German woman was sat. I apologised as she picked the balloon up, thinking she’d just give it back, but instead she dug all her fingers in and burst it right in front of me. Fucking miserable bag clearly doesn’t have a sense of fun in life. For the next game, the guys had to stand in a line and each sing part of a song in turn. They had to do at least three lines and each person had to sing a completely different song to the last person, no repetitions. For the most brilliant start, the first song was Barbie Girl, followed by Country Roads, then Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. You can’t knock the variation.

Another game was like a kind of Simon Says. They all stood in a line again. Patrik would call out various terms and they’d have to do the appropriate action and obviously get it right or they’d be out. Fanta meant arms up above your head, Cola was arms out straight like a scarecrow, Sprite was arms down at your sides, toilet meant squat, chihuahua meant do a pawing type move and bark, then chicky-chicky was a rompy-pompy type hip thrust and a pant. The hilarious thing was that most of the guys’ noises for chihuahua and chicky-chicky ended up sounding the same. Maybe we should be concerned for their girlfriends.

The last game was set up like a dating show. A German woman was pulled from the audience to play the bachelorette. The guys all had to sit with their backs to the stage so they couldn’t see what the others did. A box of various props was left out for them. Each guy in turn could pick two props, then the lights went red, the Righteous Brothers started playing and they had a few minutes to try and get their wooing across via the props and what also seemed to be interpretive dance in most of their cases. My favourite was one of the English guys, who chose a caveman’s club and a duck puppet, dramatically killed the duck with the club and then offered it up to the woman like a gift. Very amusing! Sadly, the Irish man won. I hadn’t felt as strongly about him as the others, but he clearly had a lot of friends in the audience rooting for him.

Cath and Jamie came to join us after the entertainment, so we had another good chat along with our more drinks. Talked about the various work, travel, cars, etc. It turns out Jamie is a big car guy. He has quite a collection, from the sounds of it, including a couple of Austins. He was impressed with my baby, Gus, as he’s an MX-5 fan too. After however many years of being a petrolhead, I now have a car that I can really show off and impress people with. It’s awesome. Even if you’re not a car person, Gus is just too pretty to resist.

After Cath and Jamie broke for their room, we decided to do the same as we needed to get most of our stuff packed up tonight before check-out tomorrow. We got the good majority done, then hung out on the balcony for a while singing 99 Luftballons back to the Germans, who we could hear whistling. Kel put the telly on for the first time since we’d been there when we went back in. I watched some of Big Hero 6 on my iPod instead before bed. Sorry Spiderman, but you just do not compete.

Delicious flavour is basically the theme of most of my summer wardrobe.

Delicious flavour is basically the theme of most of my summer wardrobe.

29/9/15 – Bye bye birdie

I made sure we woke up with plenty of time for breakfast today. Since Kel clearly can’t be trusted with snooze button duty, I had to use my own alarm. I have switched back to my ‘secret party’ tone though, which is always fun. Got ready, dropped our towels on some sunbeds first like usual, then hit the food hall. It’s been a while, breakfast – I’ve missed you. I had bacon, frankfurta, chips and a kind of one-sided ham and cheese toastie thing. All the yummies.

It was super hot today. Easily the best sun yet. It makes me a little sad though when it’s so hot that I have to keep switching between sunbathing and hiding in shade or water. Can’t I just tan the whole time please? We had to have several breaks to chill in the balcony pools. Suddenly the fact that they’re freezing cold didn’t seem like such a problem anymore. The heat even meant I started off having to have more pop than alcohol to stay nice and hydrated. Perish the thought.

At one point, it got so hot that even after another dip in the pool, we weren’t prepared to venture back out into the sun, so we had to sit under the canopy by the snack bar for a little while. We then decided that this would be a good time for lunch. Cue all the rice, pizza, some bolognese pasta, beefs cuts with some kind of sauce and what tasted like a Chinese style of pork. Of course, seconds were in order, so I had more pork and chips and was thankfully able to make the most of more rice. If I’d seen anyone trying to take it away early this time, I’d have been chopping off some hands.

As we were eating, I found myself in the stage where I couldn’t decide if I was developing a headache or a migraine. I’m getting really fed up of this malarky. I really don’t want to be taking my meds every day – that surely can’t be good for me. I chanced it on headache and stuck to painkillers and a few sweets from my bag (for some reason, particular kinds of sweets seem to help when I have a bad head; probably because of the sugar). Thankfully, I made a good guess and it soon cleared up as the painkillers kicked in. I felt happy to head back out into the sun. I was insistent on sticking to my sunbed this time. Did more reading and wrote another short story. I’m on a roll!

When the sun had gone in and then stayed in for quite a while, I headed back to the room for my usual Red Bull relaxation time before showering. Kel put another Fruits Basket episode on whilst I was doing my hair and then we kinda watched but mostly listened to Improv-a-Ganza clips whilst getting ready. It says a lot that we can now just listen to them without having to watch to know what’s happening. That Kazakhstan Taratino musical though… I wore another of my pineapple playsuits, as well as my new big pineapple heels that I’ve been trying to practice to walk in for quite a while now. I’m gonna have to be especially careful with plates. If I fall over when carrying food, then that’ll be genuine reason to cry.

Food tonight was of course rice, chips, pizza, bolognese pasta, small cuts of steak, Chinese style pieces of chicken and pork steak with Gran Canaria sauce, which tasted like it was primarily made of garlic. I had seconds for more rice, chicken and pork. I skipped pudding this time, as it always makes my sangria taste funny. It says a lot when I prioritise alcohol over pudding. Moved onto the entertainment room for more drinks and, well, entertainment. First up, was a parrot show with various macaws that rode scooters, rollerskates and would ring a bell the exact amount of times you asked it to. The guy also brought three of them round for people to have photos with. I got a scarlet macaw on one shoulder, a little grey one on the other and then a blue and yellow macaw to hold in my hands on its back like a baby. I’m not a big fan of birds, but that was adorable.

After the show, we got chatting to a couple from Cheshire called Cath and Jamie. They were probably in their forties. Learnt that Cath works for the council and Jamie travels around doing repairs on various vehicles and ships. We always seem to meet people who have such interesting jobs. They were really funny and we ended up talking to them all night. They share our love of food, so we clearly got along well. Jamie helped us out with some answers on our new movie quiz too. This one was way harder with rounds of having to guess from movie frames, edited posters and obscure versions of score music that sounded almost nothing like the original pieces. I have no idea how, but I knew the Breakfast At Tiffany’s poster. And I was geeky and able to pinpoint Armageddon just from one shot of Steve Buscemi and Michael Clarke Duncan, before they even showed the rest of the clip. Told you movies are my forte. Despite the fact that it was much tougher, we actually won! It was funny as our team name was Where’s Larry, so Patrik was then asking who Larry was. Sadly, nobody from the audience shouted LARRY, which is the response I would have liked. Boo you, uneducated crowd.

We headed back to our room after Cath and Jamie did, armed with many drinks this time. Obviously we’d done another last minute drink run before the all-inclusive ended. We’re savvy with scavving the free drinks, duh. We had a drink and more watching of Fruits Basket in the room before bed. I’m liking this new late night development. Geeks who drink, yo.

28/9/15 – The day they took the rice away

As we’d gone to bed pretty late, despite it being our so-called ‘quiet’ night, Kel hit snooze quite a few times this morning, so we didn’t get up till around ten. Breakfast was out of the question yet again, so once we were ready, we went downstairs and hit the snack bar for brunch instead. I love this place – there really isn’t much of a gap when they’re not serving food. My very odd brunch consisted of a ham and cheese toastie, fries and chicken nuggets. Well, if that’s what they were offering, then who was I to say no?

I hit the drinks again early on to make up for yesterday. Started sunbathing, but had to be careful of my poor sun burnt belly, and wrote another short story. I’m getting the hang of this! The sun then disappeared and it quickly started raining. Not like British rain, but more than spitting, so we went to hide in the lobby until it stopped. I finished the Anita Blake book I was reading and ran up to the room to swap for another one. When we came down, we decided to go for lunch. I thought that was a good idea as I’d already had three drinks and was starting to feel a bit merry. Tipsy before lunch – now that’s what holidays are about. Food was yummy, as always. Had the usual rice, pizza and chips, more ravioli and some rump steak with a lovely kind of champagne sauce. It was so good that I went back for more of the steak and rice, as well as the sliced potatoes, which hadn’t been there on my first round.

Thankfully, it was dry again when we got back outside. We immediately got roped into playing darts. I actually came second, which was cool. I lost out to young Clive, who they were calling Magic Mike. That was also cool. I started to feel a migraine coming on, but I actually managed to conquer it before it really came into effect with my meds and drinking a whole lot of pop. Tone: 1, migraine: 0. We had another little dip in one of the cold balcony pools – again, only ankle deep for me. Who needs swimming? This fatty probably does, but eh. The sun never really came back out again, which was sad. I really need to tan my back now to even things up. I did get more writing and reading done though. And had more drinks of course, now that the migraine threat was over.

Because of the heat and all the drinks, I was feeling in the need of some Red Bull. I was in such a lazy mood that I even paid the extra and got it from the vending machine in the hotel, rather than leaving the complex. Hey, I still had to go up and down a couple of stairs for it. Chilled in the room with said Red Bull before showering and getting ready. I feel my life on holiday follows a bit of a routine. Food, drinks, hopes of sun, more food, more drinks, Red Bull, shower, more food, more drinks, possible entertainment. I’m good with that. I wore my little black dress that I originally bought for Stu’s wedding. Like the conga line, this dress comes with bad memories that I’ll just have to drink more to forget.

Food for today was, of course, rice, pizza, fries, tiny chicken drumsticks, lasagne and mash. I got really excited about the mash, as it’s one of my favourite foods, but it was kind of odd. It tasted a bit like the cream sauce that lasagne is made of. Ah well, mash is mash. I went back for more of it still, as well as the lasagne, but was horrified to realise that they’d taken the rice away by that point. Do you guys not realise how much I love that rice? At least I still had pudding to come. I had yet another kind of jelly and some creamy coconut mousse. I’m generally not a big fan of coconut, but they got the flavour ratio just right.

We swapped rooms after food. The entertainment was another karaoke, but more of a proper karaoke this time – various guests taking part, rather than some weird, possibly hired couple monopolising everything. Marek started it off with a very dramatic, shouty and out of tune rendition of Enrique Iglesias. However, the best part was a German woman singing a song, her girlfriend running up to join her, then the first woman proposing on stage after their song. It was so cute. I’ve never seen a public proposal before (even if I couldn’t understand exactly what was being said, though let’s face it, the “da” was the most important part). Didn’t think my first one would be a German lesbian couple at karaoke, but that’s definitely quirky enough for me.

The biggest downside to the night is that I seem to attract some weirdo every time I go through the lobby to get another drink. It was mostly the bartender who kept giving me all the vodka and who then sabotaged the cocktail machine whilst I was trying to use it, likely because I’d picked that rather than going to the bar to be served. But this time, it was a man who was probably older than my dad and barely spoke English, but was very insistent on kissing my hand and knowing where I was going to be all night. Ick. I managed to escape by feigning not being able to understand him at all.

For some reason, the chairs in the entertainment are particularly hard and, since I broke my tail bone a fair few years ago (don’t ask), spending so much time on hard chairs really gives me some jip, so we ended up moving to the much comfier chairs in the lobby. Kel was happy with that, as the lobby has wi-fi. I haven’t even turned my phone on all holiday. She did test a quiz on me though to see what Disney song I’d have play at my wedding. I got I See The Light from Tangled. Erm, best romance song from Disney ever! Thanks, quiz! I also made friends with a new cat that had been hanging around the lobby. We called this one Jesus. For some reason, as an atheist, giving things Biblical names is much funnier.

It was crazy hot tonight, for some reason, so we decided to take our leftover drinks that we’d grabbed on a last minute run before the all inclusive ended back up to our room, mostly so we could escape to the fan. We did that and watched another few episodes of Fruits Basket. Kel got me to pick randomly by number though and I somehow kept picking the super sad ones. Next time, I’m picking just based on favourites! Can’t be dealing with the sad malarky on holiday.

The happiest kitty!

The happiest kitty!