Monday, April 30, 2007

Tales from the Keys (part 3)

Sunday involved a bit of an early start, we wanted to go down to the Keys and go snorkling. We did this last time I was here and it was jolly good fun, so stopping only to get some blueberry pancakes (If the are blueberry they are bound to be good for you, blueberry's are a fruit after all) we hopped in a car and zoomed down to a national park where they had the boat tours out to a coral reef.

When we arrived Conrad went to get us tickets and I had a look at the pirate themed key-largo gifts. I got my little Brother a t-shirt that said 'Pirates have balls of steel'. I had a look at the hat section but they didn't have panama hats OR pirate hats for grown-ups which is a real shame.

Unfortunately the snorkling tour had been booked out so we had to go on the glass bottomed boat tour instead. This involved going to a slightly different reef so we piled on to that boat and took up position on the top deck just incase any pirates turned up and we would have to fight them off. The boat had a snack bar on it that sold drinks, crisps and drugs. I thought this was a brilliant idea but sadly the drug selection was limited just to ones for sea-sickness.

The tour was good, we bobbled around the sea looking at coral and fish while the slightly grumpy, but very well informed female tour guide told us about the different fish. She even said some of the fish were bad, which I liked the idea of. Bad Fish, go to your room.

After watching fish for about an hour we were feeling rather hungry for fish so we decided to find a local seafood place to see if we could eat anything we had seen. Conrad and his girlfriend wanted to go for a swim so we had a quick dip in a lagoon. I swam out far in my now traditional search for sharks/aligators and got to see a heron at extremely close range which was lovely. While bird watching I looked down and saw a long, green shape in the water. For a moment I thought it could have been an aligator but it turned out to be a cannon. There were a few lying around under the water and briefly I toyed with the idea of bringing them home but sadly there wasn't room in the car.

We jumped into the car and headed south on the road with the rule of stopping at the first place that had a sea view and seafood. On the right was a faded pink sign saying Snook's next to a little dusty road. We drove down it and there was a strange pink building with a group of tiki huts huddled next to it by the sea. It was an amazing sight so we grabbled a table and set about eating our own body weights in fish. After a massive feed, and a beautiful sunset over the sea we reluctantly left and began the long drive home which was uneventful apart from spotting a place that said 'Swim with dolphins'

So maybe my dream of punching one will come true.

Tales from the Keys (part 2)

For some reaons it is almost impossible to get American style pancakes in England. There is one place in London that makes a decidedly so-so stab at it but that is about it. So everytime I come to America I spend rather too much time eating pancakes while I can. There is one specially good place that makes them called the Midnight Diner, it used to be 24 hours a day so we would day-dream about grabbing a flight and being able to eat pancakes when ever you wanted but sadly that has stopped.

It still does amazing pancakes though, creamy and light and they just taste better when they are served in a retro 1950s diner with red leather seats and acres of chrome everywhere. After rubbing our belly's we delight we woddled to the giant mall to have a look around. I had a milkshake to complete the experience as we browsed the vast temple to consumerism. The milkshake was lovely - banana and mango so I drank it a bit fast and nearly blacked out from brain freeze. It wasn't just cold, it was so cold it made my nose tickle like the nerves were dying. Can you drink a milkshake fast enough to do any real damage to your head?

Anyway after I had recovered from my freeze-spaz attack I saw some of those cool Panama hats, a hat might be a wise investment in this harsh weather so I went in to have a look at them. There was a nice white one with a blank band that caught my eye so I had a look at the price. $200! No wonder the Cuban economy is in trouble if all the chaps have to spend $200 a year making sure they have decent headwear. After the hat shock I brought my first football shirt, it was one that said 'Peru' on it which I will wear to what I hope will be the delight of The Peruvian. I also got her a very swishy dress for Salsa dancing in, it is amazing looking but I am concerned about the size as the only advice I could give her is she is about 'this big'. Still if it doesn't fit it's a great excuse for a return trip.

We left the mall and went to the beach, I took a very satisfying swim in a lovely warm sea and went out really, really far. Like shark attack far, or at least it would have been if after about half an hour of swimming I still was in an area shallow enough for me to touch the bottom. Not even humming the theme from jaws could make a shark turn up so I swam back to land to ready myself for the night out. We went to Heimmarshee street which has a street full of bars. Each bar has a slightly different theme and feel so people sort of drift from bar to bar like shoals of fish looking out for someone to mate with.

I was amazed by how many people in America go out wearing jeans, it might be a Florida thing but the sea of denim was a little alarming. We drank more than our share of beers (not me I was driving) while enjoying the live bands and just people watching. American men have very dull haircuts, American women have either amazing haircuts, neutral haircuts or so awful that someone really should say something. Because we had parked a short way away from the street we walked back to the car. This was terrifying as you had to cross six lanes of traffic in one go. There was a crossing but the cars seemed to take the stop light as more as a rough guideline more than a rule. Luckly I didn't die and another exciting day ended.

Tales from the Keys (part 1)

I have arrived, the trip was uneventful with a slightly bumpy landing. Immigration was a doddle, we were through in seconds but then we had to wait for ages while my chum (Neil) waited for his precious guitar to appear. It was lucky I was around because a rather full figured lady slipped out of her wheel chair and so I had to help her back in.

When we finally arrived Neil couldn't find the car hire voucher so we had no idea of where the car was hired from or anything like that. After a few phone calls to companies that had closed for the day I managed to find it in a bag using the process of deduction. So I saved a lady and solved a mystery, one more thing and I would have to invest in a cape.

The car we got is something called an HHK it has tiny windows so it is like driving around in a submarine, it's not quite the convertable mustang we had last year but at least I go places with out having my hair scrambled up. I kept seeing coconuts on trees as we drove around but sadly they are out of season so my dreams of eating one fresh of the tree may have to wait. I might be able to manage some other fruit but finding someone with a mango tree who will let me eat one is going to be tricky.

In the evening we went to a Tiki hut for drinks, The chap we are staying with (Conrad) has a girlfriend who has a flat on the beach in a cool art-deco towerblock. So we met up with her and then walked the 40 meters down the beach to her local boozer. It was an open bar with a roof made out of trees and they served very good cocktails, I drank a lot until my legs started to go numb. It was a good bar, American's don't seem to get 'pubs' but when they go for they can do a damn good cocktail bar.

After a few more drinks we hopped in the submarine to another bar called Bostons, it was slightly themed as you can imagine and had a band belting out 'top 40 hits' with a pretty yet very bored singer wearing a top that was designed to produce as much cleavage as possible. There was a baseball game on so the men would watch the game and then during a break they would stare at the ladies chest in a slightly bored manner. The inner Simon Cowell in me wanted to tell the lady off for not giving it a bit more energy but luckly I was too polite to say anything. She really was very bored looking, it was like a slightly annoyed check-out girl was singing.

I drank beer for a bit and then had an experiemental Guiness which was a bad idea, It was foul and made me feel sick. Almost instantly sick, there was no velvetly smoothness or anything. A girl at the bar said my hair was cute but we couldn't talk for long as I was busy feeling ill, so we only chatted briefly about things and I told her how lovely my girlfriend was. Then I went home to bed.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Leaving on a jet plane

I'm off on holiday in a bit, I should be packing right now but in the manner of all great explorers I am putting it off. I like to think that even Shackleton and Livingston didn't put their pemmican in their leather boots until at last they did it when their mother's moaned at them.

It's going to be 10 days of relaxing and then when I return all sorts of things will be going on, I'll start a new exciting job and I will move in with a girl but right now I have to think about how many suits I need to take to Florida, it's currently 32c so I probably won't need the formal tweed number.

In less than 24 hours I'm going to be somewhere in Florida, punching a dolphin in the face while drinking a mojito.

Holidays rock!

p.s. I won't really be punching a dolphin, even if they are a bit smug.

p.p.s. it will probably be a porpoise.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Ice Queen, Dim Sum and The Good Life.

Blimes lots has happened in the last few days. I met up with the Ice Queen for drinks, she was glowing with good health and has thankfully got the incident of the chap who was naughty entirely behind her. We are going to meet up more often because she is moving to a less stressful job and of course she wants to meet T.P.

Yesterday I met up with some old work mates for drinks which was very good fun, it reminded me how much I miss them. It was a very nice evening but I didn't eat nearly enough dim-sum which was a shame. There was lots of heart-felt talks while waving about glasses of plonk. Just like in the old days.

Today I'm frantically washing clothes while wearing joke trousers to get ready for my trip to Florida.

Oh and T.P. has asked me to get a flat with her. I've said I am pro the idea, provided we can get a shark tank. She wants somewhere with a garden.


Monday, April 23, 2007

The Wicker Horse

The Morris dancers I saw had a wicker horse with them which provided a delightfully sinister counter-point to the dancing. It sort of jiggled about scaring the children who were watching.

I think anything is more creepy if you make it out of wicker. Imagine an evil clown, then imagine an evil clown made out of wicker. I think even a kitten made out of wicker would be frightening.


I took T.P. to Devon for a mini-break which was lovely, it felt like we had been away for a week and I have returned to London relaxed and ready to face the world. Well not really, I'm still in holiday mode so really I want to slug about eating chocolate cake and looking at geese.

We ended up going to Seaton to see some Morris Dancers (I knew one of the dancers so I said I would pop in to say hello). If you have never been to Seaton I would mark it on your places not to visit, it's almost entirely charmless. I took this picture when I was there which I think sums it up nicely.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


When ever things are a bit glum I bake. I don't know why but making something tasty and sweet just lifts the mood and lets you think about things but not too much.

When I heard about James I made Orange and White chocolate cookies. They are marvellous, I'm eating some right now. I'm not a huge fan of white chocolate, mostly because it isn't chocolate, just sugared fat but it works well as a counterpoint to the orange taste.

I'm also sipping tea with my right hand, not because I'm touching myself or anything but because I spent a large portion of yesterday afternoon playing on a friends Wii in 'work breaks' and now my left arm hurts everywhere. If you haven't had a bash on one of these you should have a go (a Wii not an arm).

The boxing is so-so sadly but the tennis and the bowling are marvellous, really marvellous. I'm not sure I approve of computer games that make you build up a bit of a sweat and cause your arms to ache the next day, but it was definitely fun at the time.

Now I have to have a productive day today, I've let too many things slip behind and that is very naughty. It's time to take things up a notch and put on the theme from Murder She Wrote to really get me writing.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Goodbye James

I just heard from my mother that an old friend from Devon has just passed away in a motorcycle accident.

James was a very nice chap from a farm near to the one I grew up on. Every summer I would help out with the masses of late lambs so when I think of him I can't help but think of masses of bleating lambs skipping about in fields or ramming their noses up as you bottle feed them.

I didn't see James that much after I grew up - he went into farming, I did everything I could to get out of it, but we always got on. If I ever bumped into him in the pub or a country show we would share a happy cider together and that was fine.

He had been in a few bike accidents but had survived them through a series of miracles. Part of it was his diet, drinking loads of milk when he was young had given him bones of irons but after one of the accidents the Doctors weren't sure if he would regain use of his hands. He did.

This must have been some crash to finally take him out. It's such a shame when the nice chaps go.

The promise of heat

There is a special sort of heat you get in the mornings when it's still cool but later on it is going to be soporifically hot during the day. It's like the promise of good things to come, like the rattling noise a cocktail shaker makes when your martini is being made.

I like this moment, the quiet, faintly lonely part of the day when you can hear the birds but the insects haven't quite woken up yet. It reminds me of holidays in the South of France or in Crete that seemed to last forever and all the world revolved around hunting lizards or trying out another alien flavour of ice cream before going to the beach to go and see if you can catch an octopus.

This is an especially promised filled morning as today I start my new exciting job. There isn't even an office yet, we will just be meeting in a coffee shop with computers so I can get various secret passwords and instructions. It's more than a new job, it's the start of a new era. If I was in a series on television, leaving my old work place would have been the cliffhanger at the end of the season and this new job would be the start of the new season with a new cast of characters just waiting to be introduced.

I just hope it isn't 24, I start to get crabby if I don't get enough sleep but that might be useful if the naughty terrorist chaps won't tell you where the bomb is.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Where is the Monkey?

T.P and I went went to the garden party, we had fun. I made cocktails for everyone (Sea Breezes) and there was laughter and silliness. It was all good. T.P. even wore my jacket home because she was cold, which made her look very sweet and very 80s.

T.P. was also impressed by my progress with Spanish, I'm making a point of using it more and more, although my comprehension isn't up to my yet I can definitely ask where the monkey is and then ask if I can have the monkey.

This is handy as I'm off to Florida in a few weeks and with the large Latin American population being able to locate and then request simians in Spanish will be a real boon.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Garden Parties

I'm taking T.P. to meet some of my cousins this weekend, I'm a member of a vast clan from the West Country who all know each other and meet up occasionally. A while ago we had a Bertie Wooster weekend where everyone went to one of the country piles in Dorset and had a jolly spiffing time going on brisk walks (typically to pubs) and cooking.

It was marvellous, I do hope we have another one soon.

Anyway, T.P. is going to meet some of them this weekend, I'm sure they will get on well. T.P. has already met my mother and little brother (I can't remember if I blogged that) and they got on very well.

In other sizzling romance news, the l word has resolutely not been mentioned yet, but T.P. said she wanted me to get a tattoo with one of her pet names on it, in Hebrew (I still don't understand that last bit).

I don't really do proper tattoos and I don't think a temporary Star Wars transfer of Yoda carries quite the same emotional weight for girls, which is yet another way that women differ from men.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


I cycled into work today, it was such a lovely day that getting a train just didn't seem right. This wasn't terribly wise as I will have to take my laptop home tonight and that might be a bit tricky on a bike, plus the way home is all up hill so I'm going to suffer. I really should have thought this through a bit more.

While I was cycling I saw THREE waistcoat crimes, what is the world coming through when people don't know the basic rules of wearing a waistcoat?

Waistcoats should be tight, to wear one loose is just wrong. Only the very brave should aim for the pinnacle of waistcoat wearing, which is to have one sausage-skin tight around the body but even beginners should know if it hangs away from the frame it looks just awful.

Maybe I should get leaflets made up to hand out, but that in combination with juggling a laptop on my bike might be a bit beyond my skills.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Cup of tea

I'm working today at a gallery, it's a lovely place to work as there is a dog to play with and when I have a cup of tea it is a cup with a saucer. There is something about a cup of tea with a saucer that makes always makes you feel terribly grown up.

I think I'm going to have to spend some money on needless shoes or music that adults don't get at lunch time to balance it out.

Until then I shall be the very model of sophistication.

I think I'm turning Hampsteadese, I really think so

I feel I'm turning terribly Hampstead these days, it's like I've left the old me behind and now I live the sort of life that is recorded in columns in the Sunday Supplements.

After an extremely lazy morning with a late breakfast (fresh coffee, bagels, cream cheese + scrambled eggs) I watched a French film with T.P. then we relaxed a little more before going out for a stroll to Hampstead. We went for a coffee and a pastry each (She favoured a cheese cake, I went for an apricot tart) then we brought terribly improving books (I'm going to start learning Spanish now) before buying a foreign film to watch in the evening after making some sort of chicken dish with asparagus.

Just typing that makes me feel a little bit ill.

Luckily the bits that are missing from that description is that the film in the morning was a French Kung Fu film and a large part of the day was spent playing Lego Starwars together. (T.P. is far better at the fighting bits than I am but is completely hopeless at the jumping sections so we make a good team). Most of the books were Calvin and Hobbes anthologies, the foreign film we are watching later has quite a lot of nudity in and 90% of the reason for getting the asparagus is because it makes your wee smell funny.

There is hope for me yet.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Meeting Dad

I haven't met T.P.s Dad, yet. Note the use of yet because we are proper girlfriend and boyfriend with like vague plans and things.

Anyway, I have spent a large portion of the day giggling with T.P. over what could be the most inappropriate thing to do when meeting her dad for the first time.

The current leader is when going through baby photos (of T.P.) to say 'oh gosh that is a lovely photo, you know I have some beautiful photos of T.P. too' and then pull out a stack of home-made smutty polaroids.

i.e. 'Look at how the candle light plays off her nipples'

I doubt that would get me invited back. I should point out that no-such photos exist, it's all digital these days.

No really, they don't.

Meet the Parent

I met The Peruvian’s family this weekend, mostly the female side. I met her mother (impeccably glamorous with a delightfully sharp sense of humour) and various sisters and cousins. It was at a family barbeque held somewhere in South London. It’s a rare occasion for me to go South of the river so I felt like a fearless explorer going to this event, thinking about it I really should have been in a pith helmet and some sort of beige number with lots of pockets.

The locals were terribly friendly and I had an extremely nice time learning more about Peru while eating cow hearts and all sorts of exciting things with chilli in. Most of the conversation was in Spanish so it was more than a little lost on me but I managed to catch enough to get by, and the good stories were translated for me by T.P. (The Peruvian).

I was quizzed on the usual stuff, family, job background etc. Meeting the family is always a bit of an interview but this was a very pleasant one with lots of laugher and slightly burnt food.

When it started to get a bit cool the party moved indoors where a large space was cleared in the living room and extremely loud Salsa music was put on the stereo. Then everyone started dancing. I can’t imagine many English parties where after a Veinetta the hosts put on a bit of Chris deBerg and have a jolly good mosh to The Lady in Red, the Peruvians are definitely on to something.

After quite a bit of very impressive jiggering about I was encouraged to dance. I had warned them that I was yet to get my first dance lesson from T.P., which is outrageous, considering she is lounging on my bed right now reading Calvin and Hobbes. Anyway, some male relative of T.P. invited me on the dance floor, I thought this was a good time to show the British Resolve (as apposed to the British Reserve) and so accepted his invite.

I had my first ever Salsa lesson in front of T.P.’s mum and extended family, luckly three years learning drill in the Air Training Corps stood me in good stead that I picked up enough of the steps to impress all, and after my dancing was over. I returned to an extremely impressed T.P. who said she didn’t think any other chap would have dared do that and commented that I’ve got some ‘cojones’.

I don’t really know what ‘cojones’ are but having them is apparently a good thing.

I have also discovered a love of Salsa, I’m going to start learning soon, the moment I get some suitable clothes. I was thinking dressing like something out of Flashdance would be good, although I’m not sure about the leggings.

Computer, BANG!

My big computer went bang a few days ago, this means I have been down to only a laptop and a funny phone for going on the internet. It's dark times indeed.

Anyway, I have managed to get an internet connection working again with a bit of string and some tin-cans so I can blog again.


Monday, April 02, 2007

Morris of the Dance

Morris dancing is not cool, lets not pretend it is.

But why is it so uncool? Unlike traditional Irish Dancing, which involves pretending your arms are nailed to your sides while making your legs flail around like you have ferrets in your trousers, Morris Dancing hasn't had a RiverDance moment at Eurovision.

It needs a plucky chap like Michael Flatley to prance about in trousers that are too tight and set housewive's hearts a flutter with his thrusting sweaty groin.

This would be good as Morris Dancing is special, it reminds me of summer fetes with cake stalls and sack races. Pretending that local cider is nice, and that the floaty bits are a welcome addition, and after more than a few pints of cider looking around you and thinking that it might be an awfully good idea to sneak off to the hay barn with Tilly who you fancied when you were 11.

So come on, Eurovision and Michael Flatley you are our only hope.


I have been in Devon for a few days relaxing and pondering things. This pondering was sporadic because of the constant attacks by my little brother's new kitten. It is a little grey bundle of rage that has no fear and has been ceaselessly attacking everyone and everything it comes across in an extremely cute way.

My hand is so covered in scratches I may have to get it removed and go for a fetching hook instead. Pirates are the new black after all

Eating Onions

Why is it that girls want to talk at house parties? It has happened to me a few times where after a few drinks while the party is in full swing girls want to talk about their feelings or at least allude towards them.

I don’t know why they think this is a good time for such a conversation; party time is it’s for talking about the first names of dictators or seeing who can eat can fit the most cocktail onion’s in their mouth and still sing a recognisable pop song.

It’s hard to talk about emotions when you have a reached the quarter finals of a heated contest like that and your competitor is trying do an imitation of that song by the Crash Test Dummies (which as any competitive snack singer will know is outlawed because it is too easy).