Thursday, May 31, 2012

Belated Blog

Belated Blog
This should have been written before the Eurovision Blog, but as I had my parents down for the weekend, that all flew out the window. And of course, Eurovision had to be done ASAP, otherwise it would lose all meaning. (Not that it had a great deal of meaning anyway.)
So, especially late but needing to be told, here is the story of Helen's trip to the Laundrette.
Friday night at the Laundrette, Who cares what knickers you see (sung in the style of Saturday Night at the Movies.)
When the clothes are spinning and drying and that's good to see. Whoa-oh-oh
Friday Night at the Laundrette.........
Blah, blah, blah, you get the idea.
Well, we arrived with a massive suitcase full of stuff and we're surrounded by small, medium and large machines, all silver and looking like they've seen a few too many washes. I swear they have to keep these places looking like they did in the 80's. It adds to the atmosphere.
So then change became a problem of course. You needed not only pound coins but 50p's as well. Poor A, he had to go to the local corner shops about four times to buy something small and then beg for the change he needed.
It was empty at first and we were both shocked. I'd expected more people to be partying at the Laundrette. It's where it's all happening. But that just gave us the opportunity to take some hilarious photos:

Wow! Look at it cleaning stuff. I wish my washing machine did that.
I have to say, it's not quite as sexy as they used to make out in the old Levi's ads. You know the ones where the soundtrack was, 'I just wanna make love to you' and some gorgeous guy or skinny blonde was stripping down to their smalls, in a jam packed laundrette, the windows all steamed up..........
Yeah. It ain't like that. At all. Ha!
Still we took Laundretting to a whole new level and brought it to the 21st Century, taking the lap top and headphones and watched an episode of numbers whilst waiting for the cycle to finish.
Someone came in and left their stuff, but I would never do that. I'm too attached to certain things for mostly ridiculous reasons and the idea that someone could come and take all your stuff, though why anyone would want to, I don't know. I didn't say it was rational thinking. I don't do a great deal of that. 
One guy came in with some stuff for the dryer, then went away and came back with a takeaway. Then he sat there and ate it whilst he put the dryer on again. Interesting. Speaking of the dryers, they were particularly annoying. One of them worked for about 20mins, the other about 10. So then we swapped into a different one and it again only did 10. We must have just been lucky with the initial 20mins. Needless to say, nothing was dry and we still had to hang everything up at home for two days. But at least it was clean. 

 Psycho dryer picture. Nice.
So there you have it. Friday night at the laundrette. It's Rock'n'roll!
He he.
Oh and I also found out that on the same day it was Geek Pride day. So I hope you geeks all had a lovely day. I did. I was at the Laundrette, watching numbers on the laptop. Geek heaven. Ha.
Well guys, enjoy the Queen's Jubilee. It's really worth having a Royal family when you get these extra days off. Honestly with the Wedding last year and this year's festivities, it's been awesome. Harry, if you plan on getting married, that would be excellent. Cheers. Think about it. It's worth it for the love and thanks of all your people who will sit and drink in beer gardens up and down the country, toasting your health.
So whatever you're up to, have a good break and think about all those wonderful British things like Queueing, personal space and our wonderfully stiff upper lip!
Ciao for now.

Saturday, May 26, 2012


Yes, yes, yes, it's Eurovision! And my second annual Euro blog.

Firstly I'd like to summarize the contestants for this year. There was a sublime over use of the wind machine. It really was working over time this Eurovision. Also, it seemed to be very influence based this year. There were Alanis, Bjork, Mariah, Amy and Depeche Mode rip offs, amongst others. There was also a copious amount of ballads, though granted most of them could sing, which was a nice change.

Anyhoo, as per last year. Here are my notes for each of the contestants.

1. United Kingdom.
Good old Humperdink. He must get the prize for most ridiculous name, if nothing else. Bless him.
Unnecessary dancers though without them there weren't anything to look at.
Good voice for his age. Love the pointing dance move.
Key change. Terrible! But at least he tried.

2. Hungary
Love the 80's jackets. Rockin' out, especially the bass and keys. The synth guy was well giddy.
Slightly useless backing vocalist, not really needed.
Very Depeche Mode.
I actually quite liked this one.

3. Albania
Cute piano intro and then.......Oh Jesus.
Very Bjork, or trying to be. Facial expression.....constipation?
Mainly wordless singing and screaming out of tune. Crank!
Chi she kept screaming, over and over. She's screaming for tea, Chi tea. She really wants some tea. Give her some, she might shit the feck up.

4. Lithuania
What the hell has he got over his eyes? Oh it's a sequined blind fold. Of course. The song is called Love is Blind. (Very George Micheal.)
He looks about 12 and he's doing the air penis dance. Sexy.
I think I made several shocked screams during his attempted dance routine.
And my final comment: He'll never get laid.

5. Bosnia and Herzegovina
Another ballad. (Yawn) Though great to see a pianist/vocalist.
Nice shoulders (in the dress), very 80's sci-fi.
Excellent walk from the piano stool to the front of the stage, allowing her to use some lovely hand gestures and get close enough for the wind machine. Oh yes, the wind machine.

The Grannies. Oh bless, they really should just stay home and bake.
It was basically a load of out of tune munchkins. But they were having a lovely time.

7. Iceland
All about the eyes. Crazy violinist, moving her head a lot. Dramatic.

8. Cyprus
Kelly Brook look-a-like. Learn to sing you slag!

9. France
3xtopless gymnastics. Any particular reason?
Oh yeah, it's to detract from the crazy lady with the taffeta stuff coming off her dress.
Now the wind machine got some good use in this song, we even got to see her golden knickers.

10. Italy
Amy Winehouse. Nice pins.

11. Estonia
Another freakin' ballad. Excellent eyebrow acting. Visually dull. Male Mariah??? Hero???
The poor backing vocalist who had to stand 6 miles away from him.

12. Norway
Slow motion walk. ATTITUDE! (Or attempt at)
"This slushy is making me stronger."??????
And I thought leggings were just for women. YOU BIG GIRL!

13. Azerbijian
Ice Queen. Toni Braxton (Low as ken). Should've started an octave higher.
3x Arabian Princesses and a guy on a magic carpet.

14. Romania
Fake playing. Shitty fake bag pipes.
This is what you want though....shitty Euro pop.
She's wearing an apron. She's actually wearing an apron. (dress with no sides but looks like a sexy apron.)

15. Denmark
Admiral hat. I salute you.
Random backing vocalist woman strung over a couch. Lovin' the cello playing hoodie. And a very happy drummer. Actually talented and there's a glock! Sold.
(Quite Alanis like)

16. Greece
My initial reaction was: She's singing over a backing track, but then finally the camera panned out and you could see the poor woman employed to stand 5 miles away and try to sing in unison with the woman who's knickers you could almost see.
So sick of uh-uh-uh-oh songs. Just write some pissin' lyrics!

17. Sweden
Wind machine again! They billed her as like Kate Bush but the only slight parallels were the bare footed weird hand movements. But, in all honesty the woman could bloody sing. She's a weirdo but she can bloody sing.
Snowing in Azerbijian........hmmmmmm.

18. Turkey, or should I say....TURRRRRRRRRRRKEEEEEEEEEEEEY!
Capes. Weird dancing super heroes. Oh no they're bats/dodgy pirates. Oh no, they're flying pirates.
Uh-uh-uh-oh. ARGH! Write some lyrics.
Awww, they made a boat out of their capes. I'm well nickin' that idea for me and me kids. Ha. We'll be out in the garden next week making boats with our capes.

19. Spain
Leona Lewis. Great voice. Boring. Wind again.

20. Germany
Over enunciating mouth. Beany hat - it must be cold. Bit non-descript.

21. Malta
1 yellow glove? Hmmmm? Giddy guitarist. Quiff. Twisty feet dance routine. Nice.

22. Macedonia
Beautiful voice. Yeah, rock it up Macedonia. I like this one!

23. Ireland
Another 80's sci-fi outfit. It's lovely having backing vocals when you can't sing. Poor woman.
Jumping and high fives. Classic choreography. Back to back like Abba.
You just think of the hours of practise they put in to the dancing and then they basically just jumped and skipped willy nilly.
Felt like amateur hour.

24. Serbia
Beautiful intro. But you don't wanna mess with the violinist. eeesch!
It sounded at one point like he said "droogy-poo". He he.
Creepy musicians encroaching on the singer. They wanted some face time.

25. Ukraine
Hoola-girl. Nah-nah-nah-nah-nah.

26. Moldova
Colin Farrell look-a-like. Puff ball dresses. Weird hand gestures. Blue panties, lying on the floor cycling.
Lovely long legs of the ladies. Slapstick comedy. Key change!
Like this one.

And that's it for 2012.
We are currently second from bottom in the voting. Well done us! We didn't come last.
And Sweden have just been crowned winners. To be fair they were probably one of the only countries that wouldn't have to bankrupt themselves to put on this ridiculous show.

Well done to everyone for managing to get through it. And just remember, it isn't about talent. It isn't about music. It isn't about good songwriting, it's about being friends with the countries around you. Oh, shit, we're an island and have no political friends....shit. Why do we bother? Ha ha.

Well done Lorren from Sweden.
Signing off now.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Washing Grey's, do you need a separate load?

Blog 23/5/12
And so the second week with no washing machine continues and my pile of dirty clothes grows bigger and bigger. We've been doing had washes every so often but when it takes four days for things to dry, you just get sick of looking at panties and socks drip drying everywhere.
Luckily the weather seems to be turning warmer, so I don't need as many layers as usual, but still, it's a freakin' ball ache.  A guy came to look at it last week, was there for like two minutes, tested the motor, said we needed a new one and that hopefully we'd have it by this week. Of course we haven't even heard if they've got the part yet, let alone if they're free to fit it. Bloody indesit!
Do they really think we can last much longer. I was just lucky that I'd managed to get all my jeans washed after the holiday, but I am wearing them repeatedly and just hoping I don't get paint all over them. Ha. In my job that's near impossible. I just walk near the creative area and suddenly there's some on my elbow, a swipe across my hand. It's bizarre. I'm a paint magnet.
Anyhoo, we might have to send off to one of those washing services or go to a laundrette, which is weird. I ain't never been to a laundrette in my life. I hope it's not like the one in Eastenders. Eek. I think that's where my negative view of laundrettes comes from. (not that I've seen Eastenders in about the last 7 years, but I seem to remember it being a pretty drab place, with dot cotton and Pat Butcher and all the rest of it. Eeshk. I'm not on board with that.) Or perhaps Indesit will get off their lazy arses, order the damn part and sort us out.  My parents are coming at the weekend for God's sake. I'll be lucky if we've got clean sheets and towels for them. Urgh!
Anyway, enough about my lack of clean clothes........I am a huge fan of Grey's Anatomy. I love it. I think it's really well written, the character explorations are fantastic and yes it's uber depressing, which I LOVE! But yesterday, they plummeted hugely in my estimations and I actually wished the whole cast were killed off.
We're watching Series 7 and I don't want to spoil it too much for people that are fans and haven't got that far yet (I think on normal TV - as in, not sky - they are only up to season 5. Though I must add we don't have sky, I just have an extremely intelligent boyf who can figure out how to get US netflix. Genius.) So yeah, I won't spoil it but just to say one of the main characters gets herself into a right tizz. Her life is literally hanging in the balance. Shock. I know. The build up was incredible, but then she starts having this out of body experience and starts singing. Yes, Singing.
So A and I are like......right. But surely it won't continue. Oh but it does, throughout the entire episode. And this is cringe worthy stuff. Not only is she singing but all the other doctors, whilst treating her, are singing. And Badly!! I know I'm a musical snob, but music degree and ex-singer means I can be as snobbish as I want towards other singers. I'm sorry that's just the law.
So, most of it was auto tuned, but it was the bits where they didn't even bother auto tuning it that were making me want to turn it off. And believe me, I never want to turn a Grey's off. It reminded of the time Joss Whedon did the musical episode in Buffy. It's just cringe worthy television and unnecessary. (N.B. Also massive fan of Buffy! Whoop! But was never impressed with the musical episode.)
But what was riling me up even more was the fact that it ended up completely ruining the subject matter. Their friend and colleague was dying before their very eyes and they were leaping around singing freakin' Snow Patrol and loads of other songs that had featured in Grey's over the years. It felt like it was almost poking fun at the situation and that made me really angry. But the worst one was when they were singing about the summer of their life (or something, you know what I'm like with recent music. I live in the past.) and they were all essentially fuckin' their prospective partners and rejoicing at how lucky they were, whilst their friend was dying in the next room. Lovely!
A stopped watching half way through and I started writing my report for my manager about our trip to the science museum. It was way more fun. Oh yeah, and after all that crap, unnecessary singing and probably the most cringe worthy forty five minutes I'd experienced in a long time, she didn't even die. Bloody hell!
It really changed my view on Grey's. Let's just hope they NEVER, EVER do that again.
But if you enjoy a bit of cringe worthy television, please check it out. I'm sure there's probably a snippet or two on YouTube or something, if you don't have access to the actual episode. You will wish the character dead. I know I did. (It's only a character, it's not like I'm wishing the actress dead, though it did feel like it was some sort of launch into singing for her as she was the only one with a decent enough voice. God, I hope not. Stick to acting love, you're usually pretty good at it.)
I'm hoping the next episode will be back to it's usual depressing sound track and combination of comedy, relationship crap and bizarre medical emergencies, or I may have to give up on it.
Enough Helen. Enough. You've winged long enough.
And what about this weather, Britain? Nice hey? Don't get your hopes up, it'll probably be raining again at the weekend.
Ha, Happy Wednesday. Middle of the week already. Whoop!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The final holiday blog. (Better late than never) 9/5/12

The last breakfast.......bacon of course. Packing up and buying the most hilariously tacky postcards, even one of our hotel, the fabulous Cay Beach Sun.

Got the worst lady pain ever so definitely a strung out on painkillers day. Due to not listening to his navigator and due to a lack of useful signs, we got a tad lost on the way to the foundacion de Cesar Manrique. (This was the artists house and in the bubbles left from many volcanic eruptions.)

I almost fainted about 3 times and felt dizzy and sick which was lovely. A suggested to go out but being a stubborn northerner and having paid our 8euros each, I weren't giving up in the first room. So I managed to get through it, some rooms quicker than others as I thought I was going to collapse. Ha ha. Funny when you look back, not so funny at the time.

Anyhoo, when we got out A directed me to the cafe for a drink and sit down, but the cafe consisted of three vending machines and a covered seating area. Though the covered seating area was amazing. Shade and a comfy seat and not feeling faint. Lovely. After half an hour (and more pain killers) I was ready to roll.

Quick maths equation for you: Wind + Dress = flashing (not good)

Then we ventured into the capital: Arricife. 1st impressions.......
Slightly dilapidated, especially the broad walk which had planks missing everywhere.
Loads of graffiti which I was quite shocked about but I guess wherever there are youths there will be graffiti. What was funny was that they were all saying stuff about one 'crew' or another. On Lanzarote? It just doesn't seem feasible to have a crew in this lovely sunshiny place that never sees rain.......dunno, I just thought it was weird.

Ooooo, we did find a lovely pizzeria for lunch. Weirdly decorated and even had fake grass on the floor, which I found hilarious as Lanzarote doesn't have any grass. He he. It was run by lovely Spanish people but the pizza was made by an Italian. YUM YUM YUM! Completely awesome. A had a good chat with him too, of course. Strangely though, I ended up with ham on my pizza........enough with the pig already, Helen.
I will definitely be returning to chicken, chicken and more chicken.

Then A took me down some delightfully dodgy back streets until we found the main street which was lovely, but deserted. I guess it was siesta time and most things were closed. But we did find the Animal shop open and with up to 70% off. I got some long board shorts for 5euros. AHHHHHHHH! I've wanted some for ages but I refused to pay £50 for them and now I have some and they are red. Whoop! I can cover myself up even more now. Muhahahahahahah.

Despite most things being shut, we found a gelateria....hmmmmmm gelato! We discovered Arricife's natural port, which was really beautiful. We found a hidden church and took a walk along the sea front. The castle was closed but we wandered around and took photos and then there was the beautiful band stand thing that was actually tourist information. Shame really, they could have made an awesome bar out of it. It had these lovely stained glass windows and the colours shone through onto the walls. Ah well, they missed a good business opportunity there. No one wanted tourist information, but I could have murdered an ice cold beverage.

We took the car up to another castle further away, Castillo de San Jose, renovated by who?????Yes, you got it, Cesar Manrique. It's now a modern art museum and a very nice one at that. It was well worth the 2.50 entrance and you could go on top of the castle and investigate all the little rooms and stuff. It was definitely a welcome detour and our last stop before changing back into London clothes (Jeans under the dress, knee high socks, trainers) and heading for the airport.

Returning the hire car was easy, but queuing for bag drop was a nightmare. It took forever, meanwhile I'm melting and dehydrated and ready for a new bout of pain killers. We'd been stressing about the weight of our bags, swapping stuff around and I even took out my mega notepad, as I was sure it must weigh at least 250g, so I slotted that under my arm and hid it with my coat, praying that my hand luggage would be the right weight and in the end, she didn't even weigh it. She just looked and but the 'fit to fly' tag on it. Ah well. The note book went back in. (thankfully, it's really heavy. Must be the weight of all my ideas...ha ha)

Woo Hoo, we were delayed again. This time about 40 minutes, but we knew that was cutting it fine for our trains back, so we gave in and booked a taxi. When we did disembark, we got through passport pretty quickly but then A was whisked off to translate for someone. I'm sure that was completely against policy but he was translating for an Egyptian girl who could only speak Spanish and a bit of Italian. No English. He said he had to ask her loads of personal questions and stuff. Very bizarre.

Anyhoo, the taxi took the most bizarre ways and it ended up taking about an hour and twenty minutes. We got home around 12.40 and both had to be up at 6am the next day for work. Lovely. Ah well at least it was only a two day week.

Now, putting all the joking and sarcasm aside. I would highly recommend Lanzarote. There is actually quite a lot to see and do, you just have to go out there and find it. I would strongly advise to get a hire car then you have that freedom and I would recommend our hotel Cay Beach Sun in Playa Blanca, as it was pretty quiet, had two lovely pools, was only a short walk from the beach and had plenty of nice cocktail bars. If you're sceptical about all inclusive like we were, just go for it, you might be pleasantly surprised. And if only to see all the volcanoes and get a bit of sun, it is totally worth it. Go for it! We like Lanzarote!!! It has the Helen and Andrea stamp of approval!

Now I'd really better put some clothes and head out to work. I start at 10 and have a meeting starting at 10 until 12.30. Great. I don't even get a minute with my kids before I'm thrust into the world of talking to adults. Boo!

Have a good Tuesday

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Best view from a urinal, ever!

Blog 4 of the Holiday
8th/9th May 2012
We had interesting sugar butty discussion over breakfast. (For those of you not familiar with a sugar butty, it is literally bread, butter and a sprinkling of sugar) This guy at the side of us was pouring sachets of something onto his baguette and I was asking A if it was sugar. Apparently it was salt. so he had 4 massive pieces of bread that he then poured a sachet of salt onto each one and then he added loads of hams and stuff, but I just found it quite random. Then of course we had a huge conversation about sugar butties. I'd personally never had them but A was saying he only liked them if they were open. As in he wouldn't put another piece of bread on top to close the sandwich.
Random and not particularly interesting. Swiftly moving on.
Another early start, though we did have to keep going back. It was one of those, oh I forgot my hat, oh I forgot a jumper, oh I forgot the key for the bloody car. etc etc. After about the fourth time going back we were pretty sure we had everything and we set off on our exciting road trip to the north of the island.
First we drove to the land of a thousand palms, Haria. This was definitely a place where the phantom flower cutter had not been able to strike. Maybe he didn't like the long drive (50 minutes from one end of the Island to the other) or maybe he wasn't keen on the windy roads. But Haria was definitely untouched. It had all the palms. Practically luscious!
We continued our drive to the Mirador Del Rio designed by (of course) Cesar Manrique. I swear no one else ever did anything. He he. Just kidding. We had a lovely view of the La Graciosa, an island off the northern end of Lanzarote, with yet more volcanoes. Spectacular view and even better due to the cloudy weather.
Here we stumbled upon the coach trips that would plague us for the next few hours. They followed us to the caves. Groups of extremely tired elderly people kept emerging from the caves, exhausted and barely functioning. Poor things. It left me slightly apprehensive. How long were these tunnels and what the hell went on down there. But I soon found out......
We had the best tour guide ever. He was so satisfied with his job (if I was speaking this, you would hear the words dripping with sarcasm). Put it this way, I could understand more of his Spanish than his English. And I don't know a great deal of Spanish. I think his greatest catch phrase was, "Mind you head." which was completely nasal and went higher pitched as he moved through the phrase. Another of his classics was "Let's go down. Follow me down." And to be honest, I didn't really understand much else, but the caves were amazing.
There was loads of ducking and dipping and some almost crawling bits but the best bit was when A forgot to duck even though he'd been told to "mind your head". Silly sod, he really cracked his head. Luckily he had one of his lovely hats on and that cushioned the blow somewhat. Daft thing.
We skipped along the the next set of caves, Jameos de agua, meeting a lot of the coach trips once again. It was like, oh look there's the lady from earlier who could barely breathe and there's her husband who was yelling for water but he wasn't allowed because he had to get back on the coach.
In the caves there was a beautiful lake, an oasis of palms and an amazing auditorium. And not forgetting the best view from a urinal in the world. There was a window looking out into the non pedestrianised part of the cave. Lovely. A nice view whilst you pee.
The caves had been remodelled and enhanced by none other than Cesar Manrique. He'd really been a busy boy. Well done. In the lake A found the famous blind white crabs and the visit was finished off with the house of volcanoes. It's nice to have the little science geeky bit at the end.
We found a random and rather empty place to eat just down the road from the caves. Lovely haddock and bizarre red coloured potatoes that literally looked as though they'd been freshly dug up. Yummy.
On our way back we called off at the garden of cactus by Cesar Manrique and of course the sun came out to frazzle me. There were lots of funky varieties of cactus and plenty of phallic ones. Most of them looked like some sort of weird willy worms. Though they were extremely hairy and spiky. Ow.
I went back for a quick writing session before our final soak in the pool. I managed 10 laps of the pool and lots of turns on the slide. Though the evil woman lifeguard switched the lights off early again. BOOOOOOOOOO! Spoiling our fun! Well that just gave us time for a final extreme vodka and lemonade and our last meal with plots of paella and vino.
A last walk along the marina and shock horror we ended up in our cocktail bar, drinking the original sex on the beach and long island that had us completely caned the first time we drank there. He he. We were accompanied by lovely Spanish music this time, no dodgy covers this time. And I could see Venus again.
At this point I'd like to say how frickin' difficult it is to write on a train full of drunk, rowdy QPR/MAN CITY fans, that are singing some lovely renditions of Oasis and Tom Jones. It's brilliant. No distractions at all. My god they're loud. I think I should have gone and sat in the quiet coach, or possibly upgraded to first class. I think it would have been worth the 15 quid not to have this head ache. Knobs.
Well, I don't think I can carry on, so the last day 9th May (coincidentally my year anniversary of the blog) may have to wait until tomorrow. Right now I'm having to stop myself from donning the teacher voice and teacher glare and asking them to shut the fuck up!
There's one particular guy who thinks he's hilarious but it must be a weird southern type of humour 'cause I don't get it. Oh I've just got it. It's drunken football fan humour. My lord, this late onset hangover from last night is not helping matters.(My friend Charl's 30th. Meal and drinks and karaoke.) My temple is throbbing and I'm burning up. I can't stop drinking (Not alcohol, pop and water). I've been attempting to rehydrate myself all day, but right now I don't even think a bath of vimto would be enough.
Oh god, they're getting ready to sing another song. ARGH! And there's still 34 minutes left of this journey. It's gonna be the longest journey of my life, despite only actually being a 2hour and 15 minute train from Manchester to London. ARGH! Turning my Ipod up is not helping.
I did actually just type another 773 words of the book but to be honest I'll have to read back through it tomorrow because it could say anything. It could just be football chants over and over again.
Okay I think I'm gonna give up on this and just finish the journey with a few pages of Game of Thrones. I'm almost finished. I'm about 705 pages in. And then I've got my new Cassandra Clare book, number 5 in the Mortal Instruments series, waiting for me at home. I cannot wait.
OH things seemed to have quietened down a little. Maybe they're giving me a bit of peace for the last hurdle of the journey. Please! (Fingers crossed and praying to the heavens).
Hope you've all had a fabulous weekend. And have the best week you can have.
Ciao for now.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Geography Geeks and Secret Scientists

Blog 3 of Holiday
6th/7th May 2012

Another failed breakfast. I made myself a pact not to eat the bacon today and decided upon cornflakes and raisins. So of course when I get there, there's no raisins. The one bloody day they don't have bloody raisins. Argh! So, I had just cornflakes. (I would like to ask for the record, how this cereal ever became popular??? It tastes of nothing!)

Anyhoo, I skillfully avoided bacon by opting for toast and jam, little did I know that the toaster took 20 minutes to warm the bread, let alone toast it and the strawberry jam tasted like strawberry flavoured sugar. Can you say sweeteners??? Can you say E numbers???? Yum! The bread was also the palest brown bread ever seen, it was definitely unsure of it's identity.

Enough moaning about breakfast. We had an early start today as we were off to the village of Teguise to the weekly Sunday market. We arrived just as the market was opening (9.20......starting to seem much more like a usual A and H holiday) and it was bloody freezing. Thankfully I'd put in 2 jumpers, just in case.
Apparently the town is empty usually but the whole place comes alive for the market and it most certainly does. It was massive. There was folk music going on as well as some really tacky pan pipe music and of course Lanzarote's very own Sly G performing covers sat out of a window (CHHHHEEEEEEEEESSSSYYYY!)

Then after a fairy successful market jaunt I read about a castle above the village and wanted to go. Plus it housed a Pirate museum, though not the fairytale kind, more of a history of Piracy. Still cool though. Well it would have been if there was any bloody signposts to it. Half the road were closed due to the market and there were no actual signs to the castle despite it clearly being a tourist destination. Eventually we stumbled across the road, as the castle itself was perched a top a hill (well it's actually a volcano but you don't realise until you get up higher). The road had a distinctly high risk of death, as it was steep, had no barriers. And at one point it swerved to the left and we almost plunged into the crater of the volcano. It was a pulling in space but there were no indications and it was coming from a blind bend. Well, you can't say it's not interesting............

The castle was great and the tickets had pirates on. He he. You entered on a small drawbridge and there were loads of nooks and crannies to explore. Totally worth a look, if you can find it and if you can manage not to drive off the road.

We'd been out for hours but A was determined to do one more thing before we returned to the hotel. We found a crazy little town called Nazaret, which renamed itself LagOmar and visited the once home of Omar Sharif. If you've visited the lovely welsh landmark of Port Merion then I would say it's sort of like that but with sunshine! It was incredible though. Little walkways and tunnels in the actual mountain. Fountains, pools, stepping stones and seating areas worked into the natural curve of the stone. Incredible, though it would only work in a place like this where there's hardly ever rain.

I fell asleep in the car on the way back but managed to perk myself up enough to do 2 and a half hours of writing before having a read out by the pool. (Currently 550 pages into the first Game of Thrones book. Loving it!) Randomly I caught the sun on my forehead and my nose, but otherwise I've done really well. I think the factor 50 may have had something to do with it.

We strolled along to Playa Dorada and saw a magnificent sunset whilst sipping on a Mojito. Nice! Interesting covers CD being played. Most of the covers were better than the originals, for instance Duffy, Rhianna. And yet some were terrible.e.g Mariah, Beyonce, Leanne Rhimes. What was even funnier was the fact that none of the songs surpassed about 80bpm (beats per minute......they were slow) and were pretty heartfelt ballads. (Mimics throwing up!) Not what you want when you're sipping cocktails and looking out over volcanoes. Besides Katie Melua came on and I despise her with all my might, so it was definitely time to go! (Thankfully it wasn't Bicycles in Beijing otherwise things may have been thrown.)

Anyhoo, the music was driving us mad so we stole away to our other cocktail haunt (the night of two ridiculously strong drinks that got us really drunk.....eek!). And there they were playing another covers CD but luckily this one was the 100-120 bpm CD so things were more upbeat. A got a new app on his phone called the night sky and we figured out what loads of the stars were. The brightest one that I was convinced was one of the planets, was Venus! Woo hoo. My kids would be well chuffed when I told them I'd seen Venus.

Luckily this cocktail wasn't half as strong as the last time we went there and so we were actually able to manage the walk home quite effectively.

Today was the day of the Volcanoes. We drove to Timanfaya national park to visit the mountains of fire. Wow! For the inner geography geek or the secret scientist inside of you it is just like a dream come true. Being surrounded by dormant volcanoes and layers and layers of volcanic rock and lava. Amazing!

So, you pay your 8 euro and you drive up the 2km road to meet your coach. (Along the way we found a car that had half come off the road and about 7 elderly people managed to get out without injury. Silly sausages. They'd turned down the wrong road. Anyhoo, they were rescued as they ended up on our coach.) And that's when the extreme driving commences.

Oh my word. The road is only just wide enough for the coach and so you feel like you're on a roller coaster. But you would feel safer on a roller coaster, even that make shift one they have at the winter wonderland. This must be where coach drivers come when they want to challenge themselves.

Take your coach driving to the extreme with the Timanfaya driving school. Literally hang off the precipice of life. Hold the lives of others in your hands. If you feel this is for you contact us at NO FEAR DRIVING SCHOOL, TIMANFAYA, LANZAROTE.

Hilariously, the commentary as you were going round was actually on a tape and it kept skipping. He he. Vintage! There was one particular stop we made that had me reeling away from the window. We were on the lip of a crater and as I was sat in the window seat, it was a sheer drop. Eek. I did make a squeal of some sort.

After an early afternoon of writing we took a trip to El Golfo to see the famous green lake. But actually much more impressive was the black lava sand beach. It was very course and really stuck to your toes and when it mixed with seaweed it went all spongy. Weird feeling on the old feet. You had to take a really steep gravel track down and then you were surrounded by layers and layers of volcanic rock. The green lake actually paled into insignificance next to the rest of the surroundings, but a very welcome stop off.

I love the trustfulness of the Islanders. They left out bits of crystal formations for tourists to buy. But they were literally out on a table with a price written next to them and a box left in the middle of the table for you to put the money in. I love it. what I love most is that fact that it can be done. In Britain, the table would have gone and everything, probably melted down for the metal in it's legs.

On the way back to the hotel we stopped off at Los Haveridos which we actually had no idea what it was because we'd left the guide at the room. Turns out it was another good stop off. There was little caves and tunnels and things. It was awesome apart from the fact that someone had used one of the caves as a toilet. Lovely.

Had a doss about in the pool before tea and then realised that there isn't a great deal to do at night, especially as we are well too sceptical to ever even consider the entertainment provided by the hotel. So we shimmied on down to the marina, got a gelato and stumbled upon on a mini-firework display. Not exactly wild but definitely in keeping with our relaxing holiday parameters.

Only one more holiday blog to go. I'm already back in London. Sadly I didn't get chance to do all the blogging I wanted to Lanzarote but I will hopefully post the final installment tomorrow.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Double slide injuries and way more than double measures

Blog 2 of Holiday

4th/5th May 2012

Slightly disappointed with breakfast. Mainly because the fruit juices are watered down and there's no decent cereal. Which means I end up with bacon and sausage and bread. We've decided that the apple juice is definitely the best as it actually tastes like apples. The orange and pineapple juices.......hmmmmmmm. I can't even describe what they taste like.

A did a fabulous thing at breakfast today. He got all excited about getting himself a second cappuccino and then accidentally pressed the wrong button and ended up with hot milk. He he. And then he had to add a sachet of instant coffee to it. Lovely.

This was the day where he finally got me in the old bikini. Now I use the term loosely, as it is actually board shorts and a tankini top, which means I am still completely covered up. Not some skimpy thing letting all the flab hang out. No no. But anyhoo, he succeeded in persuading me. We went to one of the pools, which was pissing freezing and then went on the two water slides, repeatedly. There were no kids on them. In fact most of the time there was no one in the pools. It was lovely and quiet.

Needless to say, I injured myself twice on the slides. I cut open my elbow and banged my knee on the floor of the pool. Ah well. I still had a great time! I even managed to swim 3 times around the oval pool without having any panic attacks, which was good news. (The last time I went swimming at the beautifully renovated, Kentish Town Baths, I got half way along the length of the pool, realised I could no longer touch the bottom and freaked out. I had a lovely panic attack, held up loads of people and just generally hated every minute.)

Sweeping aside my irrational fear of deep water, we later headed to another beach on the Papagayo. I of course did not enter the sea (infinitely deep and darn right freaky) though it was absolutely beautiful. I had a paddle and sat on a blanket with my lap top writing what was the first holiday blog. The wind was blowing sand everywhere which completely stuck to my factor 50 suncream (I'm a real sun girl) and with sun hat on and shoulders covered I sat and typed for about an hour. You'd never think a beach would be a positively productive place to write, but you'd be surprised. You concentrate so much on squinting to see the screen and panicking because you lost the cursor again, that you completely block out any other distraction.

We then took our car, Fred, (aptly named as he's a Fiat. Fred the Fiat, with the option of Freddy, if we get attached.) for a drive to the vineyards of Lanzarote. This is an awesome region to visit. You just can't believe that they can grow anything on the volcanic rock that covers 90% of the surface. Each vine is individually encased, either within a short wall of rock, (sometimes arranged in a semi circle, rectangle or straight line) or within a hole dug in the ground. Or in some cases, both. It depends on how strong the wind is in the particular area. The only reason they can grow anything is because the porous volcanic rock and ash soaks up the moisture in the air and gives it out to the plants. Remarkable.

Of course we just happened to stumble past a few vineyards that were open for a tasting or two and we bought a bottle of Lanzarote's finest. We shimmied a little further along and found a wine museum: El Grifo. You got to sample some wine, see all the old tools and even walk along part of the vineyard. Nice!
So whilst we were already far from home (when I say far, I mean like 20 minutes drive from the hotel. Nothing is very far away on this very beautiful but tiny little island) we decided to drive the extra few kilometres to see a famous Monumento di Campisario by Cesar Manrique (by far the most famous artist and probably most famous person ever  to hail from Lanzarote.) We stroll up there around ten past six, in the glorious sunshine. It's an open air monument and there are steps up the side to climb. It looked like the parking bit was closed so we parked up and walked across. Then this guy in an official uniform came out to tell us we couldn't visit the monument because it was, and I quote "so late".

It was ten past bloody six on a Friday and it was open air! What a knob. All we wanted to do was climb the steps, take a few photos.....It's not like it was closed off for pedestrians anyway. A decided to be a pain in the ass but it was hilarious. He pretended not to understand and he was all like, "Can I just stand over there?" Pointing to the steps. And once again he replied, "No. Only here. It is very late." "So I can't just stand here?" A repeated. At this point I was seconds away from bursting into laughter and I managed to drag him off. We took a few photos, scoffed at how it wasn't that exciting anyway and bitched about the guy all the way back to the hotel.

After tea, which for A consisted of a shit load of chicken. (You really can't knock the amount of protein you can eat at this all inclusive malarchy. I think the only meat I haven't had yet is lamb.) We walked down to Playa Blanca and found a wonderful cocktail bar right on the water. OH DEAR LORD. I have never been so drunk from two drinks in my life. In this part of the world, there are no measures. It's just whatever feels right to them. You watch them making the drinks. They just pour and pour and pour.

They came complete with sparklers and umbrellas and all those little tacky things that seem to make them even more exciting, especially when you're on holiday. If they served them to you like that in London, people would not be impressed. Although, tourists might be. Scrap that, I change it, locals wouldn't be impressed. Though the state of some of the people in London, they could do with a cheer up. Perhaps simply putting sparklers in your drinks (although in Britain, that wouldn't be allowed. It's a health and safety abomination) or umbrellas, would decrease the amount of people throwing themselves under a train, thus delaying less trains, thus making the people on the trains less grumpy. It's an idea. I cant believe none of the London Mayor candidates had that on their policies list. Ha ha.

Amazingly, as we sat facing the ocean, watching the waves lap gently on the sand, I luckily looked up at exactly the right time to see a shooting star. My first shooting star. The alcohol was already kicking in at that point so I had to do a double take and ask A if I'd really seen it, but apparently I had. My first shooting star. And no. I didn't have time to make a wish, I was too busy doubting that I'd seen the thing in the first place. Ah well. Next time.

There was a lovely mixture of music on at the bar. We ended up with the Best of the Cardigans and the Best of Keane. Lovely. I think I'd actually forgotten how terrible the Cardigans were. They had two good songs and the rest was just her wishy washy, non entity of a voice, half heartedly attempting to seem interested. And as for Keane. Dear lord. Depressing. Still in our drunken state we managed to sing along to about 70% of them.

I had a weird cosmic line of thought too. As the night drew on, I watched the progress of the moon and one of the brighter stars and it freaked me out, as you could really chart the spin of the Earth. (I've been doing the Solar System with my kids for the last couple of weeks and it just got me thinking). It's kind of creepy when you think about it too hard and also when your body is infused with way too much cocktail........ Excellent night.

But not so excellent morning. Not so much hung over, just feeling a little bleh and neh and other strange sounds too. Nothing the inevitable bacon couldn't cure. Nom nom.

Dig me, 6 laps of the pool this time, interspersed with slides (of course) and no injuries this time. Whoop! A successful morning.

Later we went to Playa Blanca beach, which for once was busy, though unfortunately for A it was busy with a load of Brits. Ha ha. I did the usual sit with as much of me covered up and the rest of me covered in factor 50 and wrote another 800 words of the book, whilst A went swimming and found lots of little fishes and stuff.

Then as it was Saturday night, A decided it was time we ate out of the hotel and he booked us into a lovely little Bodega di Santiago and on the way we found the lovely coastal town of El Golfo and had a drink right on the water. We needed the good old blue dot to get us to the Bodega, just outside Yaiza and when we arrived you would have thought it closed. There was one car outside and no customers. We'd booked with it being Saturday night and we were actually the only table in. But it was awesome!

I actually opted for a fish dish and we had the most garlicky garlic bread ever tasted, and we thought we'd treat ourselves to a dessert, as the hotel selection was dire. 3 courses of wonderfulness, no other people and some local wine. Lovely! Then we went back to the hotel and decided to watch a film, which we'd borrowed from some friends of ours: Turbulence 3: Heavy Metal. He he. It's terrible. Thanks J and T. It was exactly what you said it would be!

Tomorrow we're supposed to be going to Teguise for the market so that should be fun. And an update on the phantom flower cutter of Lanzarote. He has struck again, this time removing several large palms. We didn't see him on Saturday, so we're thinking it's a 9-5, Mon-Fri position............
I hear Boris is Mayor again. I didn't vote for him, but it seems a lot of other people did. Ah well. It's always fun to have a bumbling, cartoon character as Mayor of your city. Let's see what he can do this time.

Enjoy your Bank Holiday tomorrow everyone! (UK. May day) And if you're not lucky enough to have a Bank Holiday, then have a bearable Monday.

Friday, May 4, 2012


BLOG 1 of Holiday.
2nd and 3rd May 2012

Our first time flying Monarch and of course it was delayed an hour. BOO! At least it was an early afternoon flight, instead of the usual 6am flight so we were quite chilled about the whole thing.  They were really tight on your baggage allowances as well. They even weighed your hand luggage. (That's worse than Ryan Air.)
Anyhoo, despite the delays we arrived around 6.45. The landscape is amazing. Just hills and volcanoes dominating the sky line and a distinct lack of vegetation. There ain't no green here. It's all dry rock and the occasional scrub plant or palm. At times you feel that's what it's like on the moon or Mars, especially due to the earth's terracotta, almost red colour.

And so at 8.10 when we arrived at our hotel, not knowing what the hell to expect from our first all-inclusive holiday, we gulped down our doubts and headed to the restaurant. And we were pleasantly surprised. Branded for the week by our all-inclusive wristbands we helped ourselves to pretty much what the fuck we wanted. And really it was way better then we thought it was going to be. A variety of dishes, rice, meat, fish, pasta. Some came with sauces, some you added your own sauces to and there was loads of salad stuff to accompany. The slight let down was the dessert table, but we figured that could only be a good thing, especially as my teeth are eroding and it would be best not to put on a whole load of weight.  So yeah, if you're thinking about all-inclusive and are sheepish as we were, give it a go, it might surprise you. (Though bear in mind this is our first day. Opinions could change. Muhahahaha.)

The damn birds were chirping pretty darn early and for some reason A called them the chav birds and pretended they were from Salford which of course has stuck. And we now refer to them as the chav birds. NO idea what they actually are, but they're cute and little and seem to live in the palms, yet at 6am you kinda wanna wring their tiny necks.

And so we venture forth for our first beach adventure on the lovely Island of Lanzarote. We head to the papuguaya, a series of five beaches that are all joined when the tide is out. They are pretty undisturbed too as the area around it is actually a nature reserve, though we haven't figured out what nature they're reserving, due to no plants or animals being sighted. 

The legs are out for the first time in a long time and it poses the age old question: What is whiter than my legs? 1) The suncream and 2) The houses of Lanzarote. To be honest I was glad to find two things.

We were all sun creamed up and then came the wind (it was only about 10am and there were about two other people on the beach). It was so cold I ended up sitting in A's jumper for a good while. Typical. With any luck I'd get wind burnt like I used to in Blackpool. He he.

When A went for a swim, I thought I'd begin my chilled holiday of writing and relaxing by getting out the old laptop and being productive. And so of course, mini red decided not to switch on. So instead I wrote notes in my notebook and cursed all technology.

Then later when back at the hotel I took out mini red for another attempt and of course it was so sunny that I couldn't see anything on the screen. I was beginning to think this week of writing was doomed. But A came to the rescue and altered the brightness levels so that with my sun hat jauntily perched and my sun glasses off, I could just about see the writing on the screen if I squinted.

Oh and also I realised that sun loungers are not great to practise the act of productive writing so I ended up sitting cross legged under the umbrella, soaking up absolutely no sun, but sipping away at a vodka and lemonade that was literally a shot of lemonade and the rest vodka. Yum! These are measures you wouldn't even make yourself at home. Mega!

It's quite funny writing on the poolside, there are so many distractions: Lizards running up the walls, cheesy music, the chav birds cheeping........And the call of more vodka and lemonade.

I would just like to say for the record....AAARRRRRGGGGGHHHHH! BAJOOBILIES! EVERYWHERE. Sorry, I know I'm a complete prude, but I was forgetting everyone else's laxness of keeping their boobs in appropriate covering. Ha ha. Must be great for men to have a sly perve on other boobs, they sure as hell can't do that it rainy London.

We went for an explore in the late afternoon, to climb our first volcano - The Red Mountain. The signs were absolutely incredible in that they stopped two roundabouts before the turn off, so you were blindly guessing. And then they were just chalked on propped up boards, or even better, painted on big pebbles. Needless to say we got a tad lost but eventually found it.

It was incredible, the size of the crater, everything. I'd never seen a volcano up close, let alone walked around the rim of the crater. The wind up there was pretty impressive and it blew the clouds across swiftly.
One of the things I loved was the way the shadows of the clouds swept across the crater floor. Mesmerising.

We then went to another beach along the main front of Playa Blanca and whilst A went swimming in the sea, I sat writing again. A called me over later with an octopus in either hand. They were really cute, but one of them swam off straight away and the other hung around a bit before shooting off. I'd never realised how fast they were.

Oh and one thing that will become a constant throughout all my holiday Blogs is the phantom Lanzarote flower cutter. When we woke the first morning we were delighted to see a beautiful tree with red flowers out of our window. When we returned from breakfast, the tree was there but all the flowers had been cut off as well as a few of the other plants and shrubs. They barely have any vegetation anyway. Why would they cut it down???? We can't explain it. Anyway, more on him, later.

We took the car out in the evening to explore the more popular resort of Puerto Del Carmen, or Puerto Del Crap as I aptly renamed it. A top destination for drunk Brits and people with no imagination, I could tell the moment we got out the car that I was sceptical at best.

Within twenty metres or so we'd found four Irish bars, all with football matches on big screens. We'd also been hassled by at least five restaurants asking us to come in and eat and to top it all off, there were big groups of late teens/early twenties (kids basically) hanging around and as we passed them they whispered to their friends and started laughing. God, it felt like high school all over again. Everyone was staring at you. It wasn't a very nice feeling at all. (Where we are staying in Playa Blanca, there are no perving, leering, creepy boys and the restaurants don't hassle you. And, its well nice and chilled and quiet.)

So we decided to stick it out a bit longer and walked onto the coastal road and watched the sunset over the mountains in the distance. Beautiful. But then came the creepy guy on the corner who waited for us to walk past, then said, "HI." Then of course, being nice polite people we said, "hello" back. Then he proceeded to follow us asking us if we were alright and if we wanted to eat. And even after we told him no, he still asked if he could tell us the offers, as he kept following us down the street.

That was the final straw. A decided he wanted to go and I completely agreed. By that point we'd managed about 25 minutes at this place. Eek! We walked back to the car and were out of there 40 minutes after arriving. And we won't be going back. Yuk!

So then, A decided we'd go to Yaiza which is famed for being the model home of Lanzarote and has won awards for it's beauty. What they fail to tell you is that at night, it is a creepy deserted town, with barely any lights on. A parked up and made me get out for a wander but it was well creepy. Finding one of the only 2 bars open in the whole town, A bought an ice cream, which we ate in the car with the doors locked and then we went back to the hotel for another massively vodkery, vodka and lemonade and a film in bed. Ha ha. We may be slightly boring, but at least we climb volcanoes and explore. Ha ha. Awesome first day.

Maybe tomorrow, I'll get in the old swim wear. GULP!