Wednesday, 28 September 2011

The calm before the Cannes

This week I have mainly been staving off illness. *I will not get sick* *I will not get sick*. There has been something going around the office, a nasty cold/flu/cough that refuses to go away for weeks on end. I will not catch it.

This weekend I am going to Cannes, and I need to be on my game. Thus far good old fashioned remedies of early nights and lots of water has been working. It also means I haven't been up to anything noteworthy. Being in bed by nine every night does have it's merits, not being knackered all day. It does however get harder to get to sleep at 9 due to not being knackered! I'm also managing to save the money...good timing post Vegas!

Following Cannes I am off for a long weekend in Luxembourg, a holiday that I won - so lots of exciting weekends coming up. *I will not get sick!*

In other news, after purchasing an emergency pair of Reebok Reetones in Vegas I have started walking home from work - a 42 minute route. Do I notice my bum getting perkier and my thighs getting thinner? No. I would however recommend them, they are very comfortable and the mental benefits have me practically running a marathon and earning some chocolate of an eve.

Speaking of running, I really must get back into it - and Zumba. Exercise has been on the back burner and my BMI is feeling it. It's amazing how just a couple of miles a day can allow you to eat and drink all the things you like guilt just has to be after Cannes now!
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Sunday, 25 September 2011

Supperclub - Notting Hill

Tonight was greatly anticipated, friends, colleagues were really looking forward to the report and I was really looking forward to the experience. Perhaps it's always the way when you're looking forward to something that its a massive disappointment.

Where to start...

Of course we had a reservation. It was a groupon booked a couple of months ago. When we arrived we had to queue...not impressed x1. As predicted it wasn't busy when we got in. Bug bear: why do they make you queue when it's not busy? To make you appreciate it more?!

Anyway when we got in we were informed the restaurant didn't open until 8.30, even though our reservation was at 8pm, go figure. We dutifully bought a cocktail at the packed bar-a mojito and a cosmopolitan. Both were very nice the bar was obviously rammed and not at all atmospheric due to the fact everyone was waiting to get to the restaurant.

The restaurant opened from a secret sliding door that we didn't notice when we arrived or on visiting the bathroom. Once it opened we all filed in. On arrival we had been given a numbered sticker with no explanation as to what it meant. We sat on a bed and were moved on "your table is over there..." well no one told us, we moved in the general direction and asked someone. Turns out we were upstairs. We arrived upstairs and sat on another bed..."no you're over there". Now if I were to give a tip to the restaurant...if you intend to give people table numbers on arrival 1) tell them that's what the numbers are for 2) number the tables. It just felt like speed dating. It was terribly organised and we were on an awful bar stool table. Not our fault...people we'd seen in the queue with groupon vouchers and tables for two were on good seats.

Any who. We could see the stage. Expectations were still high. One other thing to point out, it was hotter than the surface of the sun in the bar; even though I had checked my coat it was unbelievable...if only it was like that in the restaurant, it was freezing. I felt like I was in a wind tunnel. I wasn't the only one, the girl on the next table complained she was cold first. When the waiter disappeared I assumed he was going to shut off the glacial chill, instead he reappeared with a blanket for her...I wanted some of that action. He came back with a blanket for me too.

My dining companion informed me this was doing me no good, just making me more tired and stopping me getting into it, but honestly when I say it was nuggets, it was nuggets. Still we had the food to look forward to....

"A three course meal with champagne" is what we were billed. Starting at 8pm don't forget. The starter arrived around 9pm (30 minutes after seating and long after we'd finished the poor excuse for champagne...trampagne more like)

Now, how best to describe te starter? My dining companion did it amazingly..."it tastes like sweet dirt." Sweet dirt is entirely accurate. The real name of it was beetroot soup. I don't like beetroot at all. When we were asked about dietary requirements and I said none I didn't mean feed me the earths good soil.
Neither of us ate it, to the point we were offered an alternative "YES". The alternative was cauliflower soup, that would do companion couldn't stomach it so close to smelling the dirt. It was actually lovely (the cauliflower soup, not the beetroot soil) and I ate it all enthusiastically...anything to warm me up.

The plates were cleared, it was time for an 'act', now we'd seen assistants tying this woman in silk drapes to the banister a bit like a cirque du solail butterfly. We were obviously greatly anticipating what was going to happen. Red silk was first followed by a purple. Some we're tied low some high.

The act started..she either sang or mimed I can't decide. She didn't however move. As we were on the balcony we didn't get the visual benefit of all this and could just see the tip of her head. It was over as soon as it started and the assistant untied her...honestly what was the point?!

So time for the main, sea bass with potato and a cauliflower jus thing and supposedly a seafood dressing. My companions plate was quite healthily stocked with the seafood dressing (shrimp) I had none. They were shared, thank god for small mercies.

The fish was nice, but small the potatoes were so heavily doused in herbs you totally lost the effect and the cauliflower thing dent help matters a all. It was all lovingly mopped up, hell I would have eaten gruel to get a bit warmer.

We were also getting quite merry at this point, so were paying less attention to the surroundings so were surprised when the next act was about to start. A weird looking guy with a balloon up his top pretending to be pregnant...really?

I'd actually blocked this whole episode out of my mind, I was reminded of it at the coat check where the girl was aghast we were leaving early..."didn't you enjoy the cabaret?!" er no we only seen one singer..."didn't you see the second act" hence I was reminded of the crazy balloon guy. So at this stage I'm freezing in my blanket and probably foolishly looking forward to dessert.

When it arrives I at least think it has arrives. It's so small I can barely see it, especially in the dark. It looks chocolaty, promising. When I cut into it it's barely chocolate, mainly pastry, fail.

I eat it because I'm starving but the word enjoy is a bit strong. Also by this point it's after 11...we were seated for dinner at 830. When you're not being entertained well (like at Circus which was miles apart) this is too late. The whole thing didn't feel well organised, which is a massive shame.

Luckily as we were there on a Groupon deal we hadn't paid full price for the experience. Had we I would have been a very unhappy customer.

The only way I would go back is if a) it was cheap again and b) I was with a big group and guaranteed a good bed in a good location, the balcony was definitely not the place to be.

Atmosphere: 2/5
Food: 2/5
Drink: 2/5
Overall: 2/5
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Wednesday, 21 September 2011

I have a bowling deficiency

Not my words, the words of my bowling companion; "that's the nicest way I can say it, I'm not just going to turn around and say your bowling is shit." the latter is entirely accurate. I don't think I've ever bowled a worse game in my life. I don't think anyone in the world has ever scored less than me - 20 points. 20 sodding points, how? Seriously, how?

I swapped my shoes early on they were too big and distracting me. My pencil skirt was also blamed at one stage (not by me; "are you sure you can move in that?")

I was also told to relax, stop spinning your hand, get lower, get the ball over the line before you throw it, roll the ball...anyone else may have punched this bowling Houdini giving the orders, but I was actually trying. And with a grand score of 83 they weren't exactly one to talk.

This was an evening at All Star Lanes in Bloomsbury. The result of an evening of doing something that didn't involve getting slowly sozzled in a nice cocktail bar, although I maintain my bowling would have been far better had I been drinking. One I love New York cocktail to get the ball rolling as such although delicious was not the tonic to unlock my unlimited bowling potential.

Perhaps it is because I'm scared of bowling, have you ever accidentally stepped over the line? That floor is seriously slippy and I do not fancy hobbling around with a bruised coxix for a week.

Also I have long nails, nails I do not want rattling around inside a number 8. That is another thing, the lightest ball at my disposal was an 8, I'm pretty sure I normally use a 6. And 8 what anyhow?! It's not lbs, those things are heavy.

So bowling over, dignity shattered (well not really), dinner time. With my taste card it's 241 in all star lanes and the menu is good. I had however been to SOS (Smiths of Smithfield) earlier in the day for a deceptively filling mozzarella, olive, tomato, presto and rocket foccacia. Never the less the appetisers in ASL were too good to pass up. They were really nicely presented. We opted to share popcorn salt and pepper squid with chili jam and swordfish tacos. I wasn't expecting the tacos to be cold and they were a little disappointing. The squid however was delicious.

Popcorn Shrimp, I'm a sucker for corny presentation

Cold swordfish tacos
Now I have a thing about macaroni and cheese - one of my favourite comfort foods. The one in the diner (which I would consider a comparable restaurant) is excellent. On ordering I was prompted the mac and cheese is big. Damn it was going to be a struggle.

When it arrived I instantly felt my stomach shrink about 6 sizes I was never going to finish it. There was also a mini boat of marinara sauce on the side...strange! We ha ordered sweet potato fries on the side which were lovely, but even eating a couple of these I felt full. The macaroni lived up to expectation and the cheese was creamy and rich. When she came to take it away o was still picking, I wish now I'd asked to take it away or next day dinner...had I been in America I would...

Atmosphere: 3/5
Food: 3/5
Drink: 3.5/5
Overall: 3.5/5

I've rounded up as it was fun, but on a scale of 5 it's never going to be the best night you've ever had. Fun for pretty much every occasion though - date, friends, work...bowling is a winner even if you suck as badly as me.
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The Only Way...

Just because it was bea-utiful to get out of the city for a day here is a bit of idyllic Essex. Gorgeous. I love red buses, black cabs, tall buildings, (as much as I really moan about it..) the tube; but getting a lungful of this air...what a treat, and all for only 45 mins out of Liverpool Street

Looking at these now it doesn't even feel like I was there...
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Sunday, 18 September 2011

Eating my way around the Fabulous Las Vegas to tackle this. I've decided to do a foodie one for now, as I said I took lots of photos of what I ate. I think a recommendation/review style is best if you happen to be heading to the states read on! I am actually going to start with the caveat that I did not eat any of my favourite American fast food being (in order)

1) taco bell
2) Arby's
3) Wendy's

We did however go to Denny's (no photo here so I'll make it brief. If you want breakfast any time of day go here. I had the bacon avocado, cheese and egg burrito it was dee-lish. One other thing..the portions are enormous. So much food must be wasted! When Americans come to the UK they must think OK is this my amuse bouche?! This dish came with sort of mash browns...that's my new word for mashed up hash browns and I kind of like it! I washed it down with a chocolate milkshake (such a child) and with this there was the tin container with some more in it. It was very thick so I didn't manage to drink it all - so much so I asked for a cup to take it away. In England you may frown upon this but in the states honestly 90% of the time people take some form of doggy bag when they leave. As I was decanting the shake into the cup I wasn't expecting the splash from the huge scoop of ice cream that fell in! Huh that's why it was so thick.

Recommended for: all day breakfast, casual dining, quick meal
Price: £

One of the highlights of the entire trip was Tao. Tao is an Asian-fusion restaurant that also has a nightclub. The original one in New York and it is this one that to this day is my favourite restaurant in the world.

We had booked in here as it was labour day weekend there were lots of big acts on in the clubs, Tao having LMFAO. Now I only thought I knew one of their songs...everyday I'm shuffling...but it turns out on the night I practically knew them all.

We went to the restaurant 2 days in advance to book. The only times they had available for 2 diners...5.30pm or 11.45pm. 11.45 it was, we'd have a power nap before going out...and have a big lunch. As it turns out we went to the Bellagio all you can eat buffet brunch that day...but more on that later.

When we arrived around 11.30 we were glad we'd booked as the queue for the club was absolutely enormous. The deal was to eat here and get queue jump, guaranteeing entry to the club costing $40 each for entry. We were instructed to wait at the bar for our table, happy to do this as the atmosphere was fantastic and the bar was buzzing. My all time favourite cocktail also comes from here- the Tao-tini. A mix of absolut mandarin, stoli raspberry, cranberry and some orange/lime, plus some jiggery pokery as I have never been able to recreate this at home regardless of knowing all the ingredients.

Once we were seated the restaurant was also buzzing. I was so glad they only had this time available as if we could have come whenever we probably would have been really sensible and British and booked a table for 8pm and the place would have been dead. Usually when I visit the New York equivalent its lunch time, and they have a special excellent value lunch set menu, so this was my first time going a la carte. It was very exciting.

We opted for sharable starters, chicken dumplings and duck spring rolls. The duck spring rolls came with an out of this world spicy Chinese mustard, it was honestly unbelievable and complimented the duck fantastically. The chicken dumplings were also excellent, meaty and light...I mopped up a fair bit of the mustard with these too. This was a good starter size as I was looking forward to my main. The waiter had recommended one of their specialities, the filet of sea bass with vegetable stir fry. My companion opted for the seared salmon on a bed of yaki soba. We had also ordered a portion of rice to share.

Once the sea bass arrived I was thrilled with my choice it was enormous. It was also the meatiest yet flakiest consistency you've ever tasted. It was marinated beautifully with soy and the vegetables were also delicious. The rice was nice but pretty unnecessary as usual there was loads of food. The salmon was also very good, but not as good as the bass.

Once the meal was over I was in a very tranquil food coma. As well as another Tao-tini I had opted for an espresso martini to ensure I would keep going for a few hours. It was good, but not as good as the old favourite.

To finish the meal we were far to stuffed for desert, however we were treated to our fortunes...I definitely preferred mine. We were also stamped with a line pass to ensure our entry into the club, an incredibly pleasant surprise when we got to the front of the queue the aforementioned $40 was not asked for. Free entry, got to love that. The dinner was however the priciest of the week, but so worth it.

If you are ever in New York or Las Vegas I highly recommend you try this place out. The venue itself is impressive with the huge Buddha holding court over the restaurant and placed within a moat of koi carp.

Recommended for: special occasion, fantastic food and cocktails
Price £££

As I've already mentioned the Bellagio brunch I'll go here next. Having looked online before we went we'd seen the price was $28 for the champagne brunch...bargain so we thought. When we arrived however there were special holiday weekend prices. Bumped up by $10 it was still good value. Since there were 8 of us service was generally expected upfront, totalling $48 each for brunch...our waiter was getting a hefty tip. Unfortunately he obviously knew this, the service was appalling. We had to ask a number of times for champagne and he practically snapped at us for asking saying basically he'll do it at his own pace (bearing in mind the only service he had to do for his 18% was drinks since it was a buffet).

Once we got it it was very nice, some of the other champagne we'd been drinking was more like Asti. It was then off to the buffet. Now I've done a Vegas buffet before and know the selection and variety of food is huge, I therefore previously decided I was going to do it sensibly with small portions of different 'courses' so I'd do breakfast, fish, pasta, desert etc and not end up like some people with curry, pancakes and cheesecake on their plate.

First off I went for eggs benedict, a bit of bacon and sausage. The sausage wasn't great and as ever in the states it was streaky bacon. The eggs benedict however were delicious.

Next up I was going for a fish course, I'd already spied the alaskan crab claws, yum. This along with a bucket load of shrimp and sushi. The shrimp was actually quite disappointing since it looked so plump and juicy it was actually fairly bland. Perhaps it needed a bit of chili sauce. The crab claws weren't as meaty as some I've had before so really I should have taken a few more to make it worthwhile, but I don't think I was going to go hungry.

After two fairly modest choices I was feeling smug compared to people who had piled their plates and had maybe not got to experience the variety that was on offer.

Next I went for an Italian course, pasta and pizza, both were very nice but I was beginning to feel full. It was on this round of the buffet that I noticed there was also a hand rolling sushi area with spicy tuna rolls, damn I was jealous - I already had my fish course, those would have to be forgone as I was ready for desert. I opted for a fairly modest cookie, cheesecake and also a sugar free cheesecake (some people had gone for half a dozen deserts) I also decided to experiment the taste of the sugar free compared to full fat so went for the full fat first, and then tried the sugar free. It actually tasted really nice so I decided to eat this first - rationalising if I got full and couldnt finish everything at least I'd been sort of 'good'. When I finished this and went back to the full fat this is when I noticed the delicious taste of sugar, this one was miles better, glad I'd saved the best for last.

The sugar free is on the right
I couldn't however get that spicy tuna hand roll out of my head...I needed one not caring that I had already had my desert, I was on holiday and I wanted it. I'm so glad I did it was delicious. I think the girl made mine extra special as some people were queuing up asking for loads of things so she was quite rushed, me however with my solitary roll I could tell she was pleased. And how pleased am I with the decision to get one it was probably the nicest thing I ate all morning. Beautiful.

Now with all the food going on I haven't forgotten about the service black hole we were in. Our waiter was doing everything he could to avoid our gaze while carefully tending to all the tables for two around who hadn't already forked their tip over to him. One time after observing him attentively topping up everyone else's champagne we asked for a top up, he grudgingly trundles over and tops us up literally half an inch and goes to walk off. it was at this stage we all tried to read his name tag so we could complain about him. it does really ruin the fun.

We didn't let it spoil ours though, absolutely full we left champagne in hand to the casino...

Recommended for: the ultimate Vegas brunch buffet
Price: ££ (as it was a holiday weekend)

Ok I'm turning this into a two parter...

Price guide: £ = cheap and cheerful, ££ = reasonable holiday treat, £££ = one off beautiful blowout
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Saturday, 17 September 2011

An Eve on the Eye

It's been quite a touristy week, what with the proms and the palace at the weekend I also went (for the first time) on the London Eye last night. I was amazed when we arrived around 6.35 how big the ticket queue was, are people really still interested? Apparently so.

I also had a free voucher that had come some time ago from Tesco (when she scanned it turns out it was from May-not as long as I thought!) having had a look on the website I knew the last flight is at 8pm-quite early really but even though it has just turned September we are in 'winter hours...' yes it made me depressed too.

They also seemed to remove a lot of 'cashier' type people not long after we started queuing...but never the less it did go quite fast. I wouldn't fancy doing it on a sunny Saturday afternoon! Now for some reason only known to myself I thought the flights were every half an hour as this is how long the trip takes, logical so I thought. Once we bought the tickets and was told to proceed to queue I asked when the next flight was, and was politely reminded the thing is doing a constant circle...your wait will be about 5 minutes. What a dope.

We had also been prompted to buy a guide and the '4D experience' being £1 and £4 each respectively, we politely declined. When en route to the wheel we were again prompted to go via the 4D experience...'it's free' we were told. Where that breakdown in communication had come from in the space of 27 seconds I don't know. However yet again we politely declined. due to my eye sight I can't actually see 3D it just gives me a bit of blurred vision and a headache. Apparently this is common for people with a prescription such as mine (which is very rare...go figure)

So we had been advised of a 5 minute wait time so we dutifully joined the back of the queue. It was however pretty entertaining. On the walk down the south bank there were the sprinkling of street entertainers/artists etc. There were also two really random ones...a guy dressed as a chicken and 200m or so further along a guy dressed as a rabbit. Now the people on the south bank generally make a lot of effort...not these two. They were literally just people in costume standing around begging. The rabbit was absolutely hilarious. His costume was pretty manky and he was actually a bit scary, donny darko esque! He was also making absolutely no effort to 'entertain' not even a wave as passing tourists. At one stage he did a sort of shuffle on the spot but we decided he probably just needed the toilet. What may be a good idea is if you're in the south bank area and have a fox costume just lying around maybe give him a little chase.

When we got on the eye and it was a really nice evening, a few clouds but good visibility. It was sound 7.10 at this point (as you can tell from the Big Ben pics!) so we had a nice view and tried to work out what we were looking at. We also felt as if we had gotten into a carriage with the paparazzi, people were literally going nuts taking photos and we had barely left the dock! I felt like saying to them, honestly the view is going to be better up there, and you may enjoy it more if you look with your eyes not your lens. We took a couple of the mandatory pics but mainly enjoyed trying to work out the major land marks. It's very different to the other 'visual' attractions I've been on-for example in New York I have done both the Empire State and Top of the Rock, with Manhattan you can basically see it all; park, Yankee stadium etc also in Vegas the 'top of the world' in the Stratosphere - you're looking at the strip an you can see it all. With London however it's so vast and all the sights are spread out. We spotted the main things pretty fast (you know, the Thames..Big Ben...) and it was quite fun trying to work out others. It's a shame you can't see any of the parks or green spaces or the palace. It is amazing from up there working out the route from London bridge (shard) to Liverpool street (gherkin) and my house (total guess). It's also a shame you can't see any of the Olympic developments, I suppose they are just so far away.

Once we got to the top the sun was setting so we got to experience it both in the day and then with the buildings all lit up..perfect timing or what.

I'm glad I've been and done and appreciated both lights. I wonder what's next on my tourist tick list?! I suppose it's good to start doing these things after living in London for 3 years

Parliament by night and day
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The Pedi from hell...not for the feint hearted

So, I've been going to the same nail salon for about a year and a half (quite long for me since I've moved a lot over the last few years) they are really reasonably priced and do a good job, plus they serve amazing green tea. I always get the same thing done too and had never had a pedicure before in my life. I see people getting them done on a Saturday afternoon in the massage chair and it looks really nice, so before I went to Vegas I decided to go for it. They also do a great deluxe mani pedi deal, so me and my housemate booked in to have it done together.

I felt all very relaxed and was looking forward to being pampered for a couple of hours. I sat in the chair and set the massage to roll.

The girl who was assigned to do it I've never seen in the shop before. The man (who is the best at manicures) was assigned to my friend, the owner was not in yet. As she started there was a lot going foot was in the spa getting bubbled away, my back was being electronically massaged and she was working the bottom of my foot. It was quite painful in parts, but I've come to expect this from a decent is pain as they say!

She spent ages on my first foot which was nice, I KNEW they needed a lot of work! She then asked me if I no, but I run, I responded. Her answer to this, barefoot?! Ok so my feet are bad but it's walking in London, there is a lot of walking involved!

She started on my second foot and it was still uncomfortable in parts, then I had a really sharp pain and jumped. I was ok she assured and carried on, albeit a bit more carefully. She then seemed to finish that foot remarkably quicker than the last.

Once she put some cream on my feet is when I noticed her (gloved) hands had blood dripping from them..."er excuse me am I bleeding?!" a phrase that caused the manager to come over. Once she summoned the girl to get the first aid kit I was told it was fine. When I asked if the cut was big the trainee said yes and looked worried as the manager said no!

The trainee was clearly very flustered, I felt a bit sorry for her until I realised she had obviously known she'd hurt me when I jumped but she chose to ignore it, that's why the right foot had so little attention compared to the left, she was trying to breeze over the fact she had taken a chunk out of my foot!

I was then told by the manager (who I really like) it happens! I was expecting a bit more care than the worry that everything I had touched had to be disinfected immediately. As I still had a manicure to go I was in there for a while after, long enough for me to bleed onto my shoes! What makes it worse? I didn't get it free, I didn't even get a discount!

Now if this was the end of the story I'd probably let it go, I like the woman she always does a good job of my hands, however as you well know I was off to Vegas. Now when I say I was in pain, I was in PAIN! I couldn't even walk properly. They don't open on Sunday's otherwise I would have called them and told them how sore it was, literally I couldn't even sleep because the covers were irritating it.

When we got on holiday the only shoes I took were sandals. There were two particular areas of excruciating pain, the heel where she had wounded me and also the ball of my foot which had somehow cracked all the way around, it was disgusting. Because of this I had to wear plasters on these ares, you can imagine how attractive that was in my sandals and around the pool...hmmm

(This is where I would normally post a photo, I have left these to the bottom so you can stop before you have to see them, if you so wish)

This went on for days, I had a limp it wasn't fun. In the night I had resorted to fashioning sort of makeshift bandages out of wet flannels and strapping them on with hair ties and a bikini strap. (I imagine this is the suburban equivalent of survival in the wild, very Bear Grills of me)

So this went on for the whole holiday. One day while we were shopping I resorted to the purchase of a pair of trainers (reebok ree-tones, I had fancied a pair to see if they were going to make me skinny) and socks, and immediately putting them on in the shop. It was so nice to even have socks on!

The only problem being I had packed a very smart outfit collection for day, trainers were just not going to set it off! Luckily on the day of purchase I was in jean shorts, however all I had for the rest of the time were dresses...the next day in the Bellagio brunch with no chance I was going to bear the agony of sandals I put on my tea style dress and the reetones!

Suffice to say I'm never going back there! (the nail salon, I'd quite like to go back to the Bellagio) I had considered going back and telling them exactly how much pain I'd been in, but not sure what I want out of it, a free manicure? Nah. So I actually went to a new nail bar when I got back. Honestly it was not good. They did a fine job, but just 'fine'. I didn't get any conversation or a green tea, and it was more expensive.

What to do now? Go back to the butchers or try and find another one!!

There are the photos of my heels soon after the attack. I haven't taken any of what they look like now as honestly I'm embarrassed!

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Monday, 12 September 2011

Days 5, 6 and errr...whoops

OK so I never finished posting about the sacred heart diet (I disappeared off the radar to Vegas, I need to post about that still, I'm still trying to work out how to break it down into manageable pieces!)

So I was full on sick of the soup however I tried carrying it on. Realistically I ended up throwing a fair bit out. I don't think it was the taste exactly, it's just how monotonous it is to eat the same thing day after day (unless it's chocolate).

I was looking forward to the three steaks day, and I did them in fairly quick succession at lunch time. To be honest they were really small. This was day 6 - Saturday. And this is where the story ends!! I never managed to carry it on to day 7. Too much was going on, days out with friends were beckoning and I just said...I look fine lets start the holiday early!

I've pretty much taken a picture of everything I ate in Vegas, and I ate A-LOT! I have continued doing so since I've been back.

Just to finish this note on a high here are the blogs I still need to post:

1) I bought the lusted after Estee Lauder Pore Minimiser! The dream one!!! Needs to be reviewed
2) The pedicure from hell and the reason I'm never going back to my trusted manicurist ever again
3) Vegas - TBC on the breakdown

Until the next time (and I'm sorry I couldn't finish the diet...I just love food!!)
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A very patriotic weekend

One of the highlights of last years social calendar...last night of the proms (in the park!) not the Albert hall version...the upmarket festival version, in fact the only one I would like to brave-particularly as I was staying in the Thistle marble arch 2 minutes away and not camping in any squalor or fighting for a spot on the tube!

Out of this years line up I'm not ashamed to say I was looking forward to the overtones, deacon blue and Westlife! Catherine Jenkins and Russell Watson would also be good.

We managed to bag a good spot near a path (hoping it would be easy to navigate to and from the loo/bar/taco truck, delete as appropriate) and three of us tried saving the space for our dozen or so friends who did not get the queue as fast as us.

To do this we fashioned what I like to think of a rounders style 'marker' set up, but instead of posts there was a pot of potato salad, some strawberries and cheese twists acting as bases. This actually worked quite effectively and people pretty much stayed out of our zone.

Once the others arrived we managed to set up half a dozen blankets and commence the festivities (ignoring the bottle of champagne we drank in the queue, that doesn't count). Actually while I'm on that I should state you are not allowed to take glass into the proms, therefore champagne proves difficult. In the hotel beforehand I literally funnelled champagne into a plastic bottle. It's sacrilegious! I also funnelled a bottle of red wine into a cranberry and vodka into a water bottle and hoped these wouldn't later be misinterpreted as soft drinks and give someone an epic hangover!

The aforementioned funnel became quite useful later when we used it as a drinking game...for the record funnelling a strongbow is not easy, nor is it something that should be encouraged (or repeated!)
Once the acts started I was pleasantly surprised a new most of deacon blue's stuff...dignity being a highlight. I was actually surprised they were on so early as I thought they'd be quite a headliner.

One of the surprises of the night was the cast of rock of ages. God knows what Justin Lee Collins does in it but he sort of narrated it, Shayne ward was very convincing with a long blonde wig, so much so that one of our group said earlier on...that person has long thick hair that can't be a wig! A closer look and a quick google and we were all surprised. He can still belt out the big notes. The whole cast had us vowing we were going to go and see it.

We also agreed we'd like to go and see the Overtones! I love all that sort of old 50's music, in fact the cast of jersey boys were a massive highlight for me last year-they are not too dissimilar! Opening their set with sha boom had us all shuffling round our picnic.

It was around this point we started warming up for Westlife...literally. We were stretching and lunging and generally being a bit stupid, an act I'm blaming for my totally aching muscles the two following days!
It was sometime around now I accidentally drank a vodka gin redbull tonic. With the no glass rule, premixed cans were a popular choice of packed picnic...accidentally filling a cup with vodka then unintentionally filling it with a can of g&t rather than redbull tastes gross. Trying to make it taste better by adding the illusive can of redbull is not something I would condone you try at home.

We were all very excited when the 'loifers' (only works if you say it in a mock Irish accent) came on. Opening with uptown girl was genius, again something I blame for being in bad physical shape the next day...we were throwing some serious moves!!

Now something that you always see at open air concerts is grown adults getting on each others shoulders, in practice actually getting on someones shoulders is not easy. When flying without wings came on I decided I wasn't high up enough. A particular member of our group is a good few inches taller than 6ft, getting up there was the mission. Now we'd both been enjoying one or two drinks over the course of the afternoon (he was the pioneer of the strongbow funnel). I had to fully lean on someone else to steady myself as he stood up. At one point I was literally au 90 degree angle!

Once up, as predicted the view and atmosphere was great seeing above the flags and the lights and generally getting a bit giddy from the altitude! Getting down was a worry a few minutes away! As you can imagine flying without wings while flying above the crowd was brill! Highly recommended!!

Lang Lang also did a great piano set before rushing off to the hall to play for a much more civilised bunch, the first act to play both stages on the last night.

One of the next surprises of the night...Rolf Harris!! He had everyone in the crowd going crazy for a rendition of tie me kangaroo down sport. It is at this stage however we were crawling on the floor looking for a friends phone that had gone walkabout, it's really annoying-ruins your whole night something like that. We didn't even find it in the end. Our best guess is it was left in the toilets. Totally gutting!

The end of the evening is my favourite part..'you are now live in the Albert hall', the singalong! Let's face it no one knows more than one verse of any of the songs, me even less! But we started with a great version of you'll never walk alone. Twinned with exuberant flag waving!

Next up, Rule Britannia, Land of Hope and Glory and God Save the Queen, rounding off with a bit of Auld Lang Syne, I just can't see it having the same effect in the hall!

The fireworks were really nice and I only took one or 2 pictures to not spoil them by watching through a 2in screen. As I said I was staying at the thistle, it was such a nice feeling to be so close to bed!
It's such a great day, will deffo be back again next year, maybe I'll learn some words by then!

The next day we had tickets booked to go and see 'that dress'. Not before a big fat boy breakfast though. Ah the joys of not staying at home! On arrival at the Palace we were stunned how many people were there...they must be making an absolute mint (no pun intended) with all these tourists..and I was one of them!
Before we get to see the dress you have to shuffle through the state rooms and Faberge collection, and I mean shuffle!! We hardly picked up our feet or the pace all day, bar a little rendition of the running man in the East Gallery..I'm blaming the funnel.

The Faberge collection is really badly laid out, in a room which has been specially converted with low black ceiling and black walls. The tiny pieces are in cabinets and the line is totally condensed due to the slow speed of the commentary. The palace staff are telling people to move along but the voice in your head is still on case 1! Not very well thought out. Some people actually skipped it altogether under the velvet ropes.

Seeing the state rooms was nice, you just can't really imagine the Queen using them. The throne room was good as there were pictures showing the official wedding photos and you can see where they are in situ, in my opinion they should have done that in more rooms...and here is the Queen having a cup of tea and a hob nob!

Once we got to the room with the dress, I'd already heard about the awful mosquito-esque net it's shielded under and the 'ghastly' way it is lit from within. No photos are allowed in the palace (although some people were flagrantly ignoring that rule) but to me the ends/bottom rim on the dress looked a but tatty! Maybe it's where she was traipsing it across gravel by the abbey...did she step off a red carpet?! She did look gorgeous on the day. The tiara was also there courtesy of Cartier. I have to say I didn't fancy it much to look at it but it looked good on HRH Kate!

The shoes, now they were something! Unfortunately as they were completely hand crafted there is no size on them, so I can't report on the size of the royal foot! At a guess I'd say a dainty 4!
The 8 tier cake was also there. You can see where they've cut it and it's been patched up again. I'm a bit disappointed they didn't eat any of it! Although on the commentary it says McVities also supplied a biscuity/chocolate masterpiece which they ate.

At the end of the tour predictably you exit through the cafe and gift shop. We had elected to have lunch at the cafe beforehand but when we got there it was only tea and cakes! It was reported back there were bagels, great a royal smoked salmon and cream cheese would suit me....when it arrived the bagel didn't even have a top! It was a bagel base with a tiny sliver of cream cheese and a bit of salmon absolutely doused in black pepper! What exactly does ma'am do with the rest of the bagel? So as presumably the corgis enjoyed the other half of my £4.95 bagel we decided HRH was probably upstairs looking out of a top window sighing about why all these commoners were in her garden. I wonder if she ever pops down for a cup of tea...I meant to take a picture of said bagel, but I was so starving I scoffed it before I could be bothered to get my camera out of my bag (pictures are allowed in the exterior!) It was a grey day but luckily stayed dry while we were there. it wasn't until I got off the tube on the way home the heavens opened...typical!

Our tickets were validated to we can go back for a year for free...for what I don't know!
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Ode to TFL

Second day back at the journey to Ealing isn't far enough. I'm currently standing (freezing) at east acton. The tube arrived here at 0850. At 0905 we were ceremoniously turfed off with no explanation. The replacement train behind wasn't even going to Ealing. Neither is the second that's just arrived. What really adds insult to injury is that after a mere 15 minute delay the tube status on my phone says 'good service' arse!!

Alas before I even have a chance to post this the central line strikes again. Yet again a reading of 'good service but there isn't a central line train for 14 minutes?!? Don't get me wrong its not some ungodly's 18.20 on a Monday!! What the heck is going on?!

Oh and on another minor the 'gentleman' this morning who physically bummed me out of the way so he could get the seat someone was vacating..bravo. Single handedly proving chivalry is very much alive.
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