Thursday, January 31, 2013

The last of Vegas, I promise. The Sarky Traveller 3.

Okay, so Vegas wasn't really meant to take up three blogs, but brevity is something I struggle with just as much as my friend, Rants of a Bitter Northerner. Still. This will be the end of it and then we can branch out to even more of America.

All The Sarky Traveller blogs now have a new home on

So we're back to Vegas at night, but this time a night of exploration, gambling, eating, a different hotel and free shows. It's an adults playground and there's something for everyone:

First things first let's cover the new hotel: New York New York. Now this is towards the North end of the strip, really in the thick of things and has a Brooklyn Bridge you can walk over, boats, The Statue of Liberty, the iconic skyline and a huge roller coaster framing it all. And that's just the outside.

Now again, we booked just a couple of weeks before and this was a weeknight so the deals were even better. We were offered a suite with jacuzzi in the room, but when we got there, they upgraded us to a suite that was bigger than our flat in London. And had a view on the strip. Winner!

Our slightly blurred from glare, view of The Strip.

Once our bags were dumped it was time to forage for food and then ride the roller coaster. There are loads of choices for food within the hotel/casino complex. There are restaurants, seafood, fast food joints, burgers, Italian (of course), pizza and Mexican. Just wander the indoor streets of Greenwich Village and you'll find something to your liking. 

Greenwich Village for all your eating needs and the finishing straight of the roller coaster. 

We chose Mexican at Gonzalez y Gonzalez, which was cheesy and meaty and ricey and beany and stodgy, which we needed after a very long day. But also, if you like your tortilla chips mighty then this is the place for you. You don't even have to ask for them and they come this big:

Then follow signs for The Manhattan Expressway for the most terrifying roller coaster ever! (I guess technically I can't say that as I haven't been on them all, but it was pretty terrifying, and I like roller coasters.)
There are loads of shops and The Coney Island Emporium, as you make your way up. So think arcades, grabber machines, pin ball. etc. Then you get to the roller coaster entrance and it's not cheap at $14.00, but when you only have one night there, it really is a must do. It's open late as well, most nights till around 11.00/midnight, so there's no rush. 

Now, you have to leave everything in a locker, but what I didn't realise until I'd handed in my ticket, was that my glasses were likely to fall off and my earrings. ARGH! So, please ladies and gents take off anything that has a slight possibility of flying away, otherwise you spend the whole ride like I did, clinging onto my ears for dear life. My glasses I some how secured between my legs, but this additional stress just made the ride even more terrifying. 

The first climb, you think you're never going to crest and the first drop you think is never going to plateau. Wow! I was shitting one from that first drop, until we eventually made it back in one piece. I have to say from the outside it looked very big, but also the drops looked quite gentle. I knew it would be fast but I think it was the loops and twists straight after each other that added to the scream factor. Although, you're going so fast and the force against you kinda knocks the sound back in. It's like, I'm trying to scream but it's forced back into my mouth. Very strange. 

The first two drops are 23 metres, followed by another climb and then a drop of 44 metres. And that's real stomach losing, feel like you're never going to level out, mess with your head type of drops. Wow! And when we finally finished, which you know by going through a section of the casino, you heart is on over drive, you're shaking, your legs don't want to work and you can't even decided if you enjoyed it or not.

We collected our stuff and forced our jelly legs to walk back down to casino level, where gaining some distance definitely helped. And after a half hour or so we did come to the conclusion that we enjoyed it, in a very stressful way and we were glad we did it because who knows when we'd be in Vegas again, but also that there was no way we were doing it again. Ha!

So if you're into rides. Go for it. Experience the thrill. But please take off all dangly things first and brace yourself. It may look nice and gentle, but it's actually savagely brutal with a twist of terrifying brilliance.

Now the real night time jaunt begins. The strip at night is spectacular. The lights, the buzz, the craziness. You can't really put it into words, you just have to get over there and experience it yourself. 

Day time rules still apply at night. 
  • Taxis are our friends.
  • Look around for the best rates on poker or roulette tables.
A lot of complexes have free shows and most of them outside. The most famous being The Bellagio fountains. Shows run from 12pm to 12am on weekends, with an increasing number of shows in the evenings. And on weekdays they start at 3pm and run through till 12am. (I didn't see them in daylight but at night they were absolutely spectacular.)

So the odds are, you are going to catch one of these and I urge you to! The fountains are amazing, the way they dance to music. And the combination of water, lights and music just adds to the weird, mystical sort of magic of the desert.

We had the delight of Celine Dion's My Heart Will Go On. Ha! In true Vegas style.

Then we hop footed it to TI (Treasure Island) to try and catch the Siren's of TI show. Sadly it was way further than we anticipated - should have taken our own advice and made friends with a taxi - and we missed it. Boo! But they were due one more later. So we formed a plan: Gamble at The Venetian. Catch the Volcano show at The Mirage and then back to TI for the Siren's.

I'd just like to say that I like the name Treasure Island and don't think TI makes it any cooler. At the end of the day it's pirate themed, what could be cooler than that? You could call it Pirate Chic and people would still go. You could call it Arrrrr ship mates! And people would flock there. So really, the initials thing actually annoys more than anything.

Anyhoo. The Venetian has a cool light show which runs through winter at The Doge's Palace. It has more stuff going on in the summer too, but we managed to catch a bit of that before we went into the casino:

So to the plan. Now A really wanted to try some roulette and so we began the hunt for a cheap table. We managed to find one at a $10 bet, but it was rammed and we couldn't get in, so instead we opted for a $15 bet table with just two other players. Now these were few and far between as most of them were $25 plus, but if you have some patience and look around you can make your money go a lot further. (Okay, I realise I am speaking to people that are probably not quite as sensible as my partner and I. We were not made to gamble and are way too cautious when it comes to money, but we did seem to have luck on our side that night.)

We started off betting on red or black, which won us a bit more back. Then after a few bets I said this is boring, let's bet twice. So then we were betting odd and black, or red and no's 1-19. So it was a gamble but not as much as putting it all on one number. And we just kept winning both, so that each time we were getting an extra $30 back. 

Sticking to the plan though we only had ten minutes to get to The Mirage for The Volcano, so we cashed out with a whopping $165 from a start of $30 worth of chips. And in 10 minutes we'd made $135. Whoop! Even non gamblers can give it a good go. 

It always bums me out that you can't take pictures in the casinos, as they really are a sight to behold, but here is a picture that we took in the entrance to The Venetian casino:

And so to another free show at The Mirage. The Volcano plays nightly from 5pm and is a spectacle of fire, lights, music and sounds.

Last show at 11pm, nightly, The Volcano combines the music of Indian Tabla and sounds from Mickey Hart of The Grateful Dead. An interesting and tense combination. Just wait for those fire balls, they'll warm you up on a chilly evening. 

Now, Vegas really does get a pounding from winds, whipping across the rest of the empty desert and this can stop shows from happening. The Bellagio and The Siren's of TI are especially affected and shows can be cancelled at short notice. Now sadly, this happened to us. It was due for the final show of The Siren's of TI, around 11.30 and they cancelled it due to high winds. Boo! But here is the pirate ship at night.

To curb our upset, we played a few slots in the casino at TI and I won another $14.50. Whoop! A good night for small winnings, but we honestly felt as though we'd won the lottery or something. He he. 

One of my favourite things about Vegas was this:

No, not a random silhouette of a man but the van in in front of him. Girl's Direct To You . Com. Genius!
This van just drove up and down all day long. Back and forth up and down the strip. And I was convinced there was actually women inside. You would call up and they would deliver a girl to the hotel of your choice. Ha! Kept me amused for two days anyway. 

Oh and another thing, on every street corner are a load of Mexicans giving out flyers, for, yes you guessed it: Girls! Because, what more would you want? Even when they see a couple together, they still offer you girls. And they annoyingly flick their flyers at you which makes this really irritating sound. And I'm not kidding, they're on every street corner. And along The Strip, that's a lot!!!! Just make sure you have a decent 'Fuck off and get out of my way' face and you should get by without throttling them. It was touch and go with me, but I resisted the urge. 

Now, of course each hotel complex also has shows on. These might be singers, Cirque du soleil shows, Blue Man Group, comedy, major artists like Elton John and Celine Dion, or cabaret and burlesque. If you have the time I would definitely do this, as there is so much to choose from and you can get last minute deals if you turn up just before the show and they have tickets left. Sadly, we only had one useful night there as the first night was after 24 hours of travelling. So we had to sacrifice seeing Elton. But we took in four free shows, won ourselves a bit of extra spending money and had an absolute blast. 

So I hope I've shown how you can do Vegas on a budget, but also that you can of course go all out if you have the available funds and the time. I would never suggest to someone to stay in Vegas for a whole holiday, though I know some people do that, but a few days is sufficient and surrounding Vegas is a whole host of exciting excursions and day trips, which we I will be sharing with you in travel blog 4. 

And so to summarise:
  • Take in free shows. They run daily along The Strip and offer an additional outdoor thrill.
  • If you have time, take in an indoor show at one of the complexes. They offer Broadway hits, alongside superstar musicians and mystifying circus skills. 
  • Ride the roller coaster at New York, New York and go head over heels. 
  • Find your best 'Fuck off face' and use it on the flyer flicking Mexicans. (I'm not being racist here, it's just they were all Mexican.)
  • And give yourself a gambling time limit. It's not only exciting that way, but it means if you are losing desperately, then you force yourself out of there. 
That's all for Vegas, but next time think Hoover Dam, Grand Canyon and Death Valley, the trilogy of amazing excursions!

The Sarky Traveller

Monday, January 28, 2013

Stomach Farts, Standard Housing and 80's inspiration.

What a day!

I could barely move this morning due to a lasting hen-over (that's the equivalent of a hang over from a hen do). So I stayed in my PJ's, found 80's movies and veged on the couch. I was also doing this last night as for some reason I needed to immerse myself in all things 80's.

I knew it was never going to be the most productive day, writing wise, but then after watching Teen Witch this morning and Say Anything last night, I had an idea for a new book. A completely new idea, meaning there are now about 12 going round my head. I didn't think there was anymore room.(The book idea is nothing to do with any of the story lines in either film, just to clarify.) 

So, I may not have been actively working but I was most definitely passively working. Luckily, I'm pretty good at that and whilst others would look at my morning and call it a failure or a waste of time, or being a lazy arse! I say, bugger you! I just came up with a new idea for a story and I wrote notes on it for an hour before I left to teach, on the bus journey and on the way back. So actually, it was a very successful day. Plus. I got to watch movies I hadn't seen before and indulge in a little 80's magic.


Speaking of teaching.... I just got back from music class in record time due to the revelation of the 46 bus. (Yes, I do realise I should have discovered this way sooner, but before self employment I had the ability to purchase a monthly tube pass and a severe hatred of buses.) So, I've been trialing different routes to work over the past few weeks but think I've finally cracked it. In terms of closeness to home and work it is fantastic and it's much quicker than the other bus routes around. But it is good to have several contingency plans and different options.

I may hate buses but they are more flexible than tubes and trains. At the end of the day, if a tube line is down or a train broken, you don't go anywhere. With buses you have to battle with traffic and pray that you catch it at a quiet-ish time, but other than that there is always an alternative route. And it's half price.

I still hate buses but am beginning to realise their pros as well as their cons. I left work at 4.15 and was home at 4.50. Yes! Put my music equipment away and computer on, ready to blog at 5. Now that's what I'm talking about.

I actually had a parent sit in on my music class today. PRESSURE! The child was new and only settling in so she was there and joined in the class. Not fun but at least I know I can do it and I didn't seem to scare away her or the child too much, as they did say, "See you next week." Ha! Thankfully there will no parental observers next week and hopefully all my kids will be in. It's really irritating when 3 out of 10 children are off. I thought it was just adults that didn't want to go to work on a Monday. Now I have my kids pulling a sickie.

It's also slightly irritating that the manager is not chasing up the payments and there are twins that owe money. They've already had two lessons, but it's management's job to chase this up and it's two kids so quite a bit of money and the only income I have right now. I mean, come on. 'Throw me a freakin' bone here.'

Oh. That reminds me, I really need to re-watch Austin Powers 1 and 2. I love a good Austin Powers quote.

There was also a new teacher, supposedly to replace me - a month after I left - which was weird. But it was always going to be. Seeing the person who is going to be looking after what you still consider to be your kids, is strange at best but I know she'll never replace me in their hearts. (Dramatic!)

Isn't it weird how I no longer work there but I still have so much to rant about. Anyway, I am leaving this topic now as it only tends to anger me.

So. Stomach farts. How annoying are they? If you're wondering what the flip I'm talking about then it's basically when you stomach makes noises that aren't a rumble. You know you're not hungry but your stomach is just making all sorts of noises that could easily be construed as a fart noise. It is especially embarrassing in a social context, or when in a lift, but especially when with total strangers. Your friends you can probably open up to and make a joke about it, or laugh it off. They love you anyway, so probably wouldn't mind if it was a fart. But strangers will judge. On the other hand, it's London so you'll probably never see that person again.

You know who your real friends are, if they'll forgive you a fart or two. And yes, women do fart no matter how hard they try to deny it, or society tells us we shouldn't. It's a natural process. Get over it. We would explode otherwise.

And now to standard housing. We are basically being priced out of our area and have little to no hope of ever being able to afford somewhere bigger and close by. (I do not want to leave Kentish Town. I love it and I want all these hideously rich people that keep buying here and all these posh restaurants and stuff to just shove off. Kentish Town isn't posh and that's one of the many reasons I love it. We don't need fancy restaurants or posh French schools. We need affordable housing for the people that actually want to live here.)

But what annoys me the most is that all the apartments that are being built are classed as "Luxury". Hmmm.
Now that's fine, but it also implies that there are other options. Yet, have you ever seen a sign saying: Standard, affordable accommodation? NO!!!! It doesn't exist. You can have luxury or luxury and to be fair there's probably nothing luxurious about it. It's just one of those lovely buzz words they like to use to make people think they're getting something more than they actually are.

All these "luxury" flats are probably not too dissimilar to ours, yet they cost about 3 times as much and are on the same road. It's ridiculous. They need to start up a 'No Frills' housing association, that builds nice properties that are affordable to more than the ridiculously rich, which is significantly few. I mean, who cares if you get the bog standard fixtures and fittings? When you move into a place, there is always room for improvement, but getting luxury taps and showers and appliances is probably bumping up the house price by several thousands of pounds, even though they don't even cost that much. Urgh! It's really annoying.

On a slight tangent, who remembers the 'No Frills' brand? My Gran used to get 'No Frills' crisps. They were in a white bag and the writing was black. And they were the crisp equivalent of shit pop, 'rola cola', cheap imitation stuff. Probably about 10p for 20 bags, or something ridiculous. I had an Auntie that had some issue with Easter eggs and would always, instead, buy me and my brother a massive bag of 'No Frills' sweets. So like, 'No Frills' dolly mixtures or 'No Frills' jelly drops. I don't remember them being particularly tasty but then they were probably 20p for 500g, so who cares!

I'm feeling peckish, but it's way too early to eat (except if you're up North in which case you've probably had, or are having your tea around now. I used to do the same. My issue is, if I eat now and then end up staying up late watching 80's movies, which will inevitably happen, I'll be hungry again by 10.30/11.) so if you hear a noise it's just a tummy rumble, not a stomach fart. Just to put that out there.

Now finally I would like to address some very distressing happenings from the hen do. It was held in Bath, a beautiful city and I only have good things to say about it, which I will inevitably blog about later and separately, but this needs to be addressed now! Why do boys have to touch what is not theirs?

Now, yes it was a hen do and yes we were dressed up a little (bunny ears, tail, bow tie) nothing crazy. But does that give people the right to fondle you at the bar, or insult you, or pinch your ears, or refuse to leave when repeatedly asked? Does it? No! It most certainly does not!

I mean, going out as a group of women you know you are inevitably going to be approached by a myriad of unsavoury characters and gain way too much unwanted attention, but this was ridiculous. I was told that my ears were terrifying and because I was northern he thought I was going to punch him. Keep saying things like that and I will, you dick! I was also groped at the bar by some tiny boy who decided that because he told me I had nice eyes that then gave him permission to stroke my arm and grab my bum. (A is going to flip when he reads this.) I mean. Really?

Then there were the gross guys that wanted to dance in our circle but then when asked to leave just started touching other bunnies. Not cool! But our hen got the bouncer and got a couple chucked out! Feisty bunny.
I swear I used to be feistier when I was younger. I remember a night out in Liverpool and some guy grabbing my bum. I turned around and screamed at him. "Get your hands off my fuckin' arse!" Needless to say, he didn't do it again. Now I'm actually more intimidated by it.

I need to retain some of that anger in the future, or just hope that men can rectify this hideousness. It might work on drunk teenagers or stupid students, but it certainly doesn't work on bunny rabbits. So, naughty, horrible boys, if you could keep your hands to yourself that would be lovely and realise that when we are out with the girls we are out to dance and have a laugh. We are not there to satisfy your twitchy groping hands or listen to whatever bullshit you're spinning. Honestly, I've never had this much problem on King Street in Wigan. And London is a breeze, because everyone's so cut off from everyone else, that there tends to be little to no interaction with others.

And girls, keep your faces stern, speak up if boys are being dickish and protect the right to go out and party without unnecessary fondalage.

It doesn't help that I tend to be a magnet for weirdos. I always have been. But anyhoo, I'm in a desperate need to pee and it's almost a reasonable time to eat. Oh how I count the moments. So have a great week. I'm sure the Sarky Traveller will be popping up at some point. She tends to. And stay warm and safe and dry and fed, if at all possible.

Ciao for now.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Vegas: Hotels and Day time - The Sarky Traveller 2

Hello all. Yes I'm back with another Sarky Travel report.
All The Sarky Traveller blogs now have a new home on

This time we'll be delving into The Vegas, exploring hotels, casinos, shopping, breakfasts, attractions and freebies.

Now some top tips if you are going to Vegas and you're not going as part of a package holiday:

  • Wait to book your hotel till a few weeks before you go, there are likely to be deals on the Internet and pretty fantastic ones at that. 
  • Check out sites such as, and You may just find a bargain.
  • If you do go for a secret hotel, you choose by star and they tend to tell you if it's on strip or off strip.If it's your first time in Vegas, you're definitely going to want to be on strip and trust me, it's affordable on all levels of budget.
  • If you happen to be there mid week rather than a weekend you can get amazing offers on suites and rooms with Jacuzzis and various extras, so you might want to bear that in mind.
  • Also, if you happen to go out of season you get all the heat and sun but less of the crowds. (October was fantastic!)
  • And finally, if you're staying a few days you might want to mix it up and stay in a couple of different hotels, that way you experience even more of the Vegas magic.
 So, we've completed our very long and very Zexy journey from LAX and we've arrived at the bright lights and bushy tail of the desert playground. First job, check in at our first night hotel: The Stratosphere.

If you are driving you will have the option of valet parking or self parking. Unless you are really flush or just enjoy pretending you are, I'd opt for the self parking. And yes we are slightly paranoid Brits but excuse me for wanting to know where my car is, not just handing it over, along with the keys to a total stranger. Never mind the fact that it's a hire car, so not even ours.
Anyhoo, if at all paranoid or neurotic, just self park. It's much better for peace of mind, it's free and you get to keep hold of your keys. Besides, that'll be one thing you don't have to tip for as well.

You have to walk through the casino to get to reception, just to begin the temptations. The lights, the bings and bongs of machines, the blaring pop music (most of it particularly retro), alcohol practically flowing from the walls, the chink of coins, our feet sticking to the carpet. Yes! That's it! Exactly what you wanted. Not to mention live music, TV screens everywhere. Talk about over stimulation.

Now we'd booked The Stratosphere around 3 weeks before and got a great deal on the room, especially as it was Saturday night, but joy of joy, when we got there they upgraded us to a bigger room on a higher floor. Whoop!!!! The benefits of going well off season, though of course The Vegas party never stops, it's an all year rounder.

Just to point out here, that the hotel is not in the tower of The Stratosphere. It's in a building to the side of it. But the great thing about staying here, is unlimited access to the tower and the observation deck. (Normal price $18 each). NB: You have to go through a metal detector thing so leave the knives in the hotel room.

You take an elevator (a lift) to the 108th floor observation deck and there you can look down on Vegas, with easily the best view of the strip. There are bars up there, places to eat and plenty of seats to soak up the view. (Don't forget, youngsters, that you have to be 21 to drink over there and also to go in the casinos. An underage excursion is risky at best. They will card you and throw you out if you can't produce.) Note this is the highest building in Nevada, (1,149ft) not that that's particularly challenged by the rest of the desert. Still it's a nice claim to fame. 

There's a cocktail bar on the 107th floor, a revolving restaurant and even Sky Jump Las Vegas, a controlled free fall from the 108th floor. (No thanks. Not a fan of throwing myself off buildings, especially on the first day of holiday when I've been planning this for the best part of three years.) 

If you're still not high enough, then check out the extreme rides on the summit. There's a ride like the Playstation at Blackpool pleasure beach, (The Big Shot) only this shoots you up the pole of The Stratosphere at a rate of 3G's and a further height of 160ft. Or if dangling off the side of buildings is more your thing you can opt for the X-scream or Insanity both of which extend over the sides and one of which spins you as well, just to add to the fun! All rides are $15 each or there are day pass options and group pass offers. 

The Stratosphere is at the very South end of The Strip and some would say in no man's land, but you can't trump the views and if you have tower climbing geek status as I do, then the tower will be enough of a draw to counteract any worries about missing out on the bigger party. Also, those extreme thrills people will definitely want to sample the delights of the 1,000ft theme park. Besides, taxis are uber cheap and it's only a short ride and you're in the heart of the madness.

As for other hotels, there are hundreds and hundreds. I can only really comment on the two I stayed in (New York New York in the next blog) but if you're like me I would say a hotel room is only to sleep in, so why not get a deal on a 4* hotel and then use the money you save to visit all the 5* hotels/casinos anyway. Okay, you won't be able to go into the rooms, unless you make friends (oh baby) but all the casinos are free to get into. So you can explore each and every one, or simply spend the day in 5* ones and pretend you're really posh. 

The Stratosphere's Best Bits:

  • Staying at the hotel gets you free access to the tower, otherwise it's quite pricey at $18. 
  • The observation deck gives amazing views of the whole of Vegas.
  • Recently renovated rooms and casino.
  • Live bands, music and shows. 
  • Roof top theme park.
  • Tallest building in Nevada. (Tower climbing geek status.)
  • Great deals on hotel rooms all year round.
And so to Vegas by day.
If you've travelled over the pond then you're likely to wake early due to the fuse, so I would suggest getting up and taking in the desert haze before it clears. Truly beautiful colours. Depending on how high up your hotel room is, will influence how much you see of course, but if you have a decent view check it out.

Now, the only way to do breakfast in Vegas, is BUFFET style. Renowned for it's brunch buffets, with food from all over the world and unlimited cocktails (this of course costs more), you are sure to find whatever you could possibly want. And I mean, whatever you could possibly crave. Must be a pregnant woman's dream. "I want chilli sauce on my cereal and chocolate sprinkles....."
"Sure. Help yourself!"

Most hotels do their own buffets which vary in cost but are unlimited, though they may limit you by time, not quantity of food. But as we only had one daytime in Vegas, it seemed only fair that we go to the award winning, best breakfast buffet at The Wynn. Oh yeah! Cue the taxi ride to The Wynn.

Check out these lamps. Love it!

Watch out for confusing signs in all casinos. It's quite easy to get lost as these places are so big. But if in doubt, ask. We had to ask for The Buffet, as it's not only sign confusion but distractions in the form of gigantic lamps, water features, lobby displays, shops you can't afford to shop in, swanky bars and not to mention the actual casino. They really make you work for that 1,000,000 calories. Ha!

Now the only slight annoyance was that we didn't know it was more expensive on a weekend, as the guide hadn't told us this, so it was more expensive than we thought, but really when you get inside you soon forget the $32.00 cover charge each, because there's literally enough food to feed 5,000 and still have left overs. 
(If you want unlimited cocktails or alcohol there is an additional $15-20 dollars on top of this but if you stayed three hours you could easily make it worth your while.)

Ahhhh, the food. Wow! We're talking bagels, fruit, salad, omlette (made to order), pizza, paella, noodles, spring rolls, sushi, cereal, granola, eggs, bacon, sausage, cinnamon toast, waffles. And that's not counting the fish, roasted meats and the huge cake/pastry/dessert station. 

This is actually double sided. there are just as many desserts on the other side. For Mr Sweet Tooth.

So yes you can stuff your face and yes you can actually become obese whilst there. I'm sure doing a time lapse recording of someone would show you the changes unlimited food can do to you. But I stood on my very shallow moral ground and ate this:

The granola was divine!

What I didn't show was the other plate of stuff I had previous to this with a bagel and a bacon sandwich and the other piece of cinnamon toast. I told you it was shallow ground. But I think my ultimate favourite bit was when A went to the dessert station and came back with this:

Yes, it's 8 desserts and he had a separate plate with coffee gelato on it. Love it!

The great thing about stocking up at a breakfast buffet is that you pretty much don't need to eat for the rest of the day, or at least until the evening. And it's the perfect fuel for a day walking on the strip.

The Strip is very long. Much longer than you ever expect it to be. And whilst all the guides say this, I still didn't comprehend just how big! I am a walker. I'll walk for miles and miles but factor in the sun (equivalent to that of a heat wave day in Britain.) and you've got a recipe for dehydrated melty-ness. So as much as it pains you to take taxis because usually they are ridiculously over priced, they are also the saviours of the strip.

There are of course other ways to get around. Buses run the strip all day and there's also a monorail, but if you have a destination in mind and you don't mind paying $6-10 here or there then go for the taxis. Plus it feels good because you never take taxis in London.

Once in a casino, you lose all concept of time. The dim lighting all day round and the dark decor always make it feel night time. Which is why it's so nice to have animal habitats within the complexes, or shopping streets and loads of water features. They definitely like to make up for the fact that they're in the desert. Water is a huge part of Vegas. Indoor fountains, rivers, aquariums, outdoor fountains and many other water features. And watch out for those early morning gamblers, sat at the slots at 8am already with a beer in their hand. They've no idea it's morning, they're still on last night's time. Creepy, slightly scary but also a Vegas must see.

Not being the crazy gambling type we stuck to interesting slot machines and people watching, with just a touch of Roulette. But if you are going for a specific game, make sure you know what the hell you're doing and how the betting works before you get sucked in. When doing Roulette, look for the best priced table as nestled in between those $15-50 tables, there may just be a $10 minimum bet with your name on it.

Now if you're looking for retro casinos with all the tacky nonsense you would expect of Blackpool then head to some of Vegas' older casino, some that are definitely in need of a make over, but that also have that wonderful sense of tacky charm.
Flamingo (With, as the title would suggest....flamingos and other animals in their outdoor habitats.)
Circus Circus
Casino Royale (No James Bond though.)

If you're looking for something a little nicer check out:
Treasure Island (Pirate themed....yes! And the shop is ace!!!!!)
The Stratosphere
New York New York
Excalibur (Knights and castles themed! Yes!)
The Luxor

And if you want to be all posh then hit the biggies:
Caeser's Palace
The Bellagio
The Wynn
The Ventian and Palazzo (Absolutely beautiful inside. Even if you just walk through, you have to check out the gondoliers, who sing as they take you on gondola rides, as well as the beautiful architecture and paintings.)

There are so many others, you really could spend a fortune and spend a vast amount of time here. But it does get a little samey. Yes, some of the casinos are nicer than others but when push comes to shove, it's a casino. You get very similar machines in all of them and it's up to you to investigate and find the ones you feel comfortable in. We played Roulette in The Venetian, but also played the slots in Treasure Island and Flamingo as well as The Stratosphere.

Okay, so I feel this is getting overly lengthy and will try and finish asap. But if you're into shopping and not so much the gambling. Or you're into the gambling to pay for the shopping, you're in the right place. Malls are tucked into various nooks and crannies on the strip, some containing normal people shops, but most containing Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Bulgari, so you just walk in, admire the nice displays and excuse yourself. Having a shit load of money would help, but then there are a few novelty shops that deserve a mention: The Coke Shop being one of them. (I had strict instructions from a friend of mine, to come back with diet coke items and so I did.) There's also M+M world, Planet Hollywood shop and loads of tacky souvenir shops for those holiday gifts.

The fashion show mall, looking much like a UFO has cat walk shows all through the day, so if nothing else provides shelter from the sun and a bit of entertainment. Maybe someone will slip off their heels and land on their skinny ass. You never know.

Also the Forum shops at Caesar's Palace are worth a look if only for the beauty of the building.

Other top day time treats:
Hop it over to The Bellagio for a goosey gander at the lobby (seasonal displays) but also the patisserie within it which contains the biggest chocolate fountain the the World.

If you wanna be the best, dedications what you need!

Also, just taking in the casinos and hotels in day light is breathtaking. It looks so much different at night. 

Now, I'm going to leave it here as I've been at it for around 3 and a half hours and seem no where near the end. Thanks for staying with me this long. I'll get back to you early next week with the final instalment of Vegas. I could write about it all day but I figured I should reel myself in. Ha!

And so in summary of Vegas by day:

  • Start with a breakfast buffet, it'll blow your mind and maybe even your waist line.
  • Don't be afraid to take taxis and admit defeat. The Strip is ridiculously long and Taxis are our friends. (Only in Vegas.)
  • Explore different casinos and check out their unique attractions. They'll all have something, whether it be a hidden garden or a wildlife habitat or a sky scraping theme park.
  • Shopping is geared towards the expensive but dig around the many malls you never know what you might find.
  • Have your camera at the ready and enjoy the beauty of the buildings, the often wacky architecture and the feeling of being transported elsewhere. 
  • Soak up the all year round sun and if you're pasty like me then slap on the suncream, hat and shades, it'll cost you otherwise.
  • Oh and for God's sake, have an amazing time, it's Vegas Baby!

Until next time.
The Sarky traveller

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Signature Brew, The 90's and massive elephant willies.

That's right. The Bitter Northerner is back. And of course monstrously bitter that The Sarky Traveller already clocked up more views than any of my rants. Ha! It's a good job we're one in the same person otherwise I may develop a complex.

It was fun doing the travel blog and this will definitely continue next week, but for now I get to rant about all things beer, fashion, weather (of course, I am British), writing, TV and anti social behaviour.

Firstly to beer and in particular the fabulous company Signature Brew which allows bands/artists to create their own beer and sell it at gigs etc. They already have artists such as Enter Shikari, Professor Green and Frank Turner on board, with many more in the pipe line. (Check out for more info.)

Friday the guys at Signature Brew put on a great night at The Black Heart, Camden, with five of their beers available by bottle; live music and general high jinks. Not being much of a lager drinker, I opted for The Professor Green pale ale, Remedy, which was very nice actually. Whilst A had Sssnakepit by Enter Shikari and Believe by Frank Turner.

I am lucky enough to know the guys behind the company and wish them continued success. Plus I urge you all to check out the website. You never know, you might find some of the beers available at your local venue.

But I don't want you to think I'm just plugging and not ranting, so I do have a beer related rant. Basically, I'm not much of a beer drinker. It makes me feel fat and full, but my main issue with it, is that I don't like it when it goes warm but I can't drink it fast. So it's like a vicious cycle because the beer is inevitably going to be warm before I can get half way through it. So really, they need to either provide beer coolers at tables or teeny tiny glasses of the stuff. Ha! I'm such a girl. That's probably why I like drinking beer in Germany and Belgium because they have those lovely little glasses.

As we were walking home from the Signature Brew night (okay, I think I've mentioned it enough now. Ha ha) we both had a craving for ice cream, which may have seemed strange to some as it was snowing and had been most of the day. But actually it was awesome. The ice cream was warmer than the temperature around us, so it didn't make us feel any colder and it didn't melt as you were eating it. All in all, I enjoyed my ice cream in the snow.

And speaking of snow, because that's all anyone is doing and I'm British, so the weather and conversation go hand in hand.........Great! I say. Thankfully weather that corresponds to the season. It freaks me out when we have such mild winters, like before Christmas. That's not what's supposed to happen. Global Warming and climate change freak the bejeezers out of me. So when I know I can put on seven layers and all the relating Winter accessories, I'm happy in the knowledge that this is exactly what should be happening.

As for the disruption to life due to snow. Really Britain should get off their ass and realise that this is likely to happen every year and to just do something about it. Most European countries have contingency plans and life carries on as normal, but here businesses close, schools close and life comes to a stand still. Pull your finger our of your arse Britain and sort it out.

Anyhoo, I've been reliving the 90's recently as I trawl through Buffy and Friends complete season boxsets. And I have to say I am lovin' every minute. The music, the humour, the language. But best of all, the fashion.
Oh dear lord, I'm sure it was cool at the time but really............Buffy was sporting a classic combination of wide leg jeans, heeled boots, a vest top and a lumber jack shirt. Nice. I mean, yes you are ridiculously hot but I'm not sure even you can carry that off. The funniest thing is, I'm sure I had a burgundy lumber jack shirt at one point. Ha! Maybe I was cool once.

Saying that though, I don't dress too dissimilar now. The baggy jeans are a definite keeper and always will be as I refuse to cave to the pressure of skin tights. I'm not so big on the lumber jack shirt or heeled boots but I do love my Docs. Other classic Buffy outfits include purple shiny trousers, a white vest top and a turquoise shirt partly buttoned over the top. Go Buffy. And also half mast brown trousers and a t-shirt tucked in. Thankfully, I can say I never did brown trousers but I'm sure I did lots of equally embarrassing things.

The 90's really doesn't age well. Honestly. Re-watching Friends is just bad. Not only fashion disasters (Janice's leopard print to name a few) but also the picture quality. It just looks old. Which makes me feel old. But it's also very comforting and nostalgic. Can't wait for more crazy outfits this week as I plough on with Buffy season 2 and Friends season 3.

And so to TV. Wow! Just finished Homeland season 1. Fantastic! When they took down her wall of colour, in the penultimate episode I was distraught. Is it wrong that I completely understood her when she was in hypermanic mode? But honestly, loved it. If you haven't seen it yet check it out on love film.

And also, I love the fact that David Attenborough has brought people of all ages together, with another of his legendary series. Africa is taking the country by storm and every Wednesday to Sunday there are tweets and facebook status' and comments about it. We always end up missing it but catch up on the iplayer, so usually we already have some idea of what's going to be in it. This week we knew we would be treated to enormous elephant willies and luminescent fungi, but I could never have fathomed just how big that willy was. Jeez. I feel sorry for the poor cow (as in female elephant) but at least she doesn't have to see it before. I guess ignorance really is bliss.

I also enjoyed the clouds and weather systems and the fact that the Congo experiences a 100,000,000 lightening bolts a year. Madness. There were a few too many bugs for my liking, but I thought the frogs were cute that had to be the highest to get the female. Their chin sack things looked like eggs, it was all very strange, but their fighting tactics were hilarious. I put my foot in your face. Ha! I kick you in the face as retaliation. Ha ha!
Finally, the skimmer birds with the large bottom beak just reminded me of that character from Family Guy with the massive bottom lip. I do wish we had a way of knowing what animals think because that would be the only thing to improve a David Attenborough series. So come on David, get to it! That's what I expect next time.

And to finish up I just wanted to say how unemployment finally seems to be agreeing with me. I had the best week. Copious amounts of words written; 6 chapters of the book re-written/re-edited, a few more children signing up to my music class and a very successful travel blog. I am getting a little on the anti social side though, as leaving the house becomes a massive ball ache. Why go out when I could stay in? Ha. But luckily I also have friends wanting to see me which is pulling me out of that funk on a regular basis. Cheers guys. You're going to be the ones that keep me from going stir crazy, especially when A goes to all his music conferences. I think there will be a increase in conversations with myself and general social outcasting. But still, if I have another week like the one I just had, I won't be complaining and I'll probably have edited a third of the book.

Bring it on!

So, enjoy the weather and whatever it may bring. Now is the time to don your 90's lumber jack shirts and really abuse the power of layers. Happy Sunday. Making a roast for tea. There's just something so perfect about Sunday roasts, especially in Winter. I can't wait!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Sarky Traveller Takes Over

So finally after months of broken promises, The Sarky Traveller has taken over the blog to give you previously undisclosed information; tips; additions to usual guidebook stuff and of course stuff you already knew with a sarcastic twist. Which let's face it, is always fun

 All The Sarky Traveller blogs now have a new home on

The road to Vegas. Long, dark and Zexy!
So once you've done the 12 hour flight to LA; the hour and a half jaunt through customs; the three mile shuttle to the airport rental car place and the further hour and a half wait for the hire car..... (just so you know, we went with budget for our car hire and it doesn't matter if you've already paid in full, they don't have any one manning the International desk. You just have to queue up with everyone else and wait it out.....FUN!).........and then it's the four and a half hour drive to Vegas. Whoop!

At this point, I can safely say both of you are knackered, maybe a little smelly and dying for a shower. You're also irritable and can be prone to the odd disagreement/argument etc. You're also thirsty and hungry which for most men means additional irritability and for me means dehydration, which hits me pretty hard. So just watch out for these things, otherwise you can start your holiday on a low. But on the flip side (not actually sure I can pull off that saying) you are excited. You're off to Vegas. You're in LA and it's October and it's really warm and you're on the other side of the World for the next 16 days. Can I get a whoop?!

So top tips after the lengthy journey over the pond:
  • Have all your forwarding documents at hand: Hotel check ins; rental car reservations, transfer flight tickets or bus tickets.
  • Make sure you have at least a bottle of water at hand.
  • And snacks, especially if you have a long journey till your final destination.
  • Have your camera at hand because let's face it you're in America you never know what you might see.
  • And if you are driving, or a member of the party is, make sure you know the route, even if you have a sat nav. Just have some sort of paper map, or at least the road names/numbers committed to memory. You never know when the tom tom app may delete itself. (I have never deleted the tom tom app. No!)

And so to the drive of all drives. It was actually really cool as we skirted around LA and could see downtown from the interstate. Even just seeing the turn offs for Hollywood and Pasedena (Big Band Theory) made you giddy. But we would have to wait a few days to experience The LA. This was all about the build up, the hype, the wait. The Vegas!

Now in terms of food and drink along the way, American interstates don't have service stations just off the road like in the UK. So you can't just nip off and back on, it's a bit more of a polava. Sometimes there's a village or town just off the interstate which is quite useful, but other times you have to come off and drive a mile or two before you find what the sign says.

My main tips here are:
  • If it looks like something out of a horror movie, don't stop there, just drive on, get back on the interstate and cane it!
  • When you do stop, do everything....bathroom break, check on gas (petrol) and stock up on supplies such as drink and snacks, as you never know when the next services will be.
  • Stop for something substantial to eat, preferably before you hit the I-15 going into Nevada because that's when you hit the desert and the land of darkness swallows you up. You might find the odd spark of life, but nothing much. So definitely stop before then.
  • Also, if you are a little freaked about using the bathroom at a service station, then either get your partner/friend/spouse to stand outside and talk to you, or go to a chain restaurant and use the toilet there. (obviously, this isn't always an option but if it is, then just go buy a drink there for like a $1.50 and use that much nicer bathroom. It'll be worth it if only for your peace of mind.)

If you are the designated driver, then this is going to be the toughest part of the journey. It's getting dark, you've got several hours to go; there are no lights on the road and for the most part there are no cars on the road. (Depending on what time of day and year you go, this will be very different. But at the end of October on a Saturday night there was very little traffic into Vegas.) It is invaluable to have a playlist on some sort of portable device, as the radio doesn't work well in these parts. It is also preferable to have a partner/friend/spouse who'll sing along and keep you going as best they can.

Like I said, there's not a great deal to see along this road and it does get a little tiresome. You don't have to make any turn offs, it's just straight line, North on the I-15. We did find a 'rest area' where A jumped out for the toilet but I took one look at the creepy shack and locked myself in the car. There was no way I was using those toilets. It really was something out of a horror film......and I like horror films. We also found a gas station/general store just off the highway where A grabbed a coffee kick and a breath of fresh air. So there is life but it's sporadic and at times, just plain creepy.

Now, about a 100 miles from Vegas you pass a ridiculous and also pretty famous road sign: Zzyzx Road. No, this is no joke, it's an actual turn off and an actual road name.

Sadly, this is as well as my photo came out, but it was night and we were zooming rather fast. I since found out that this guy just made up the name of it in the 30's so it could be the last official entry in the English language.

What? But it's not a word. It's not a place name. It's just some crazy person who went, oh, what ridiculous combination of letters can I string together to make a silly, unpronounceable name? Hmmmmm, let me think...

I could just do that. Make up a word to beat that. Now check this out:


Right then. Pronounce that!

What's funnier is that it was only officially approved in the 80's, 1984 to be exact. Man, the 80's have a lot to answer for. They might as well have called it Zexy. That would be funnier!

Anyhoo, if you're going past in daylight, you might actually want to venture off and travel down the 4 and a half mile road and see the springs of the same name. Or at least get a better picture than I did. But don't blink or you'll miss it.

Continuing along the I-15, the excitement of Zzyzx quickly wears off, leaving you once again in the dark. Then, like a mirage, the Vegas before Vegas springs up before you. You see these lights coming down the Ivanpah Valley and you think, wow, it's Vegas. Even though the sat nav is telling you there's still 40 miles to go, your heart is pounding for life, for Vegas. Then as you get closer to this tiny town called Primm, there are three casinos and that is it! Ha. So not Vegas then. Damn the sat nav for being so right.

Interestingly though, Buffalo Bills Casino at Primm has a huge roller coaster (not too dissimilar to the one at New York, New York, but we'll get to that in the next blog) and I found out it was the biggest and fastest roller coaster in the Guinness Book of Records in 1996. It even had a battle with The Big One in Blackpool UK and it won the battle, due to that pesky sea level. It also has a pool shaped like a buffalo. Well, I found that interesting.

I still find it kinda strange that people would choose to stay there, when Vegas is 40 miles up the road, but if you like your gambling a little quieter, then I guess three resorts, a free shuttle bus between the three of them, a roller coaster, concert hall and a buffalo shaped pool, may appeal.

Now, the next time you do see lights on the horizon, it really is Vegas. It's so much light it could be seen from Pluto. It stretches in front of you, like a sea of shimmering fairy lights. It's the lord of all light pollution. It's Blackpool on crystal meths. And it's freakin' awesome! It's Vegas baby! (I feel much like Joey in Friends when he went to London, when expressing the joy of Vegas. The amount of times you find yourself saying "Vegas Baby!" is ridiculous.)

The signs and hotels and turn offs zoom by and you see all the big names up in lights: Celine Dion, Elton John, 12 different Cirque du soleil shows and beer, gambling and women! Oh yes, you've made it, to the ultimate 24 hour city, in the heart of absolute no where. You've made it to Vegas!

The next blog will take you into actual Vegas. Think hotels, buffets that could literally feed 5,000, casinos, taxis and shows!

Final thoughts:
The main sights along the I-15 are:

  • Creepy rest areas. Avoid at your peril.
  •  The Zzyzx sign. Try and get a snap of this famous road sign and make up your own examples of absurd , unpronounceable, non-words.
  • Primm - The Vegas before Vegas. If you have time maybe stop off at Buffalo Bills for a ride on the biggest, tallest, fastest roller coaster from 1996 and experience 4G's. Or take a swim in the buffalo shaped pool.
 That's all for now. I know you're all waiting with baited breath for the next one. Just don't hold your breath between now and the next one. Eek.

Signed: The Sarky Traveller 2013

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Messed up dreams, tidying and couch days.

My twisted brain must be working on over drive at the moment as I'm having some really fucked up dreams. Like, scare the shit out of you, messed up dreams. Like waking up convinced it was real dreams and sweating and panting and almost crying out dreams.

And I can't seem to make them stop.

So this morning's delight was me with a group of people that I'm sure I knew but couldn't put a face or name with and there was some sort of infection or disease going around. I think we were in the play ground of my primary school, back up North, and as soon as the infection showed in, weirdly, your hand, it would then work it's way up your arm and through your body. So, as soon as it was visible, the men were using massive knives to chop off hands at the wrists or arms at the elbow or shoulder.

I kept thinking, I hope it doesn't get me, I need my hands, I'm a writer. But it kept taking down one by one of the people there with me. And various hands and parts of arms now littered the floor along with the gushing of blood and splatter of tears. The anxiety grew as the amount of people not infected decreased and I knew it was only a matter of time until the infection took me and I would have to lose a part of myself that I needed.

All sorts of weird things flashed through my head (still in my dream) about alternative ways of being able to write and how other people have triumphed with lost limbs, but still I selfishly hoped the infection wouldn't take me and then I could keep my writing hands, my typing fingers, the reason for my continued existence.

But then a took a look at my hands, arms outstretched and the red blotches of the disease travelled up my hands towards my wrist.

"No NO!" I screamed. "I'm a writer. I need my hands!"

But then I was thrust up against the wall, just like the others and out came the massive and already bloody knife. The infection began to spread further up my arm and I knew it would have to be severed at the elbow. The knife was held up, ready to strike and.........

BAM! I wake up, distressed and scared and quickly checking my arm was actually in tact.

Wow is it fun to be in my head, especially my subconscious. 

So, come on dream interpreters. What does that mean?

I have a few theories myself: Not that it's exactly rocket science. But I'm pretty sure it has something to do with the fact that I haven't come to terms with quitting my job, I'm scared I'll never make anything happen with the writing. I'm worried I'm not good enough to be a writer. Blah blah blah. Plus it probably has something to do with all the horror/zombie/disaster films and TV shows we watch. Couple that with my twisted mind and the result is some freakin' scary ass nightmares. Urgh! I'm hoping they're gonna stop soon. The waking up at 3.30am every morning is getting old.

Anyhoo, I've had a week and a half of chaos due to having to clear out all my stuff from work, including all my musical instruments and stuff for my music classes. And for the last three weeks it's all been stuffed under the dining room table or wherever I could find somewhere to shove it. I think this has been contributing to the low levels of productivity and all around emotional turbulence I've been experiencing since the start of the new year.

But now due to hours and hours and days and days of cleaning and tidying and getting rid of stuff and recycling as much as humanly possible, the chaos has cleared and I have a tidy work space. So tomorrow the real start of the year will begin.

I couldn't work in chaos, because not only was the room in chaos, but so was I. My mind was such a tangle of nonsense and emotion and loss and the feeling of detachment, as though I no longer belonged to anything. Like I cut myself out of the World and no longer have a place in it, or I lost my place in the queue or something............Something equally melodramatic.....See what happens when you suddenly have only yourself for company. Ha ha.

So now things are in order-ish and I feel better, uncluttered both inside and out, I felt entitled to a couch day. And I am thoroughly enjoying myself. I love a good couch day. We don't have them very often but they basically involve, the couch, the TV, DVD player, remote controls, drinks and food. And of course, not doing a great deal. (Except of course writing this blog, whilst watching an epic film.)

We started on the series Homeland yesterday, which granted makes us well behind the times, but that's not unusual for me, and we are hooked. We sat and watched about three episodes back to back this morning. Claire Danes is pretty hot in it and it's very interesting that she is dealing with a psychiatric disorder as well. Normally spies are depicted with very little weakness, so it's interesting to see a main character having to not only deal with terror plots and saving the World, but also this vulnerability that she can't tell anyone about. And also the fact that it is probably her disorder that makes her so good at her job. (I do know it's not real.)

We've been interspersing this with episodes of Once Upon A Time and Series 6 of 24. He he. Good times.

Anyhoo, the couch is proving particularly comfy and inviting. I'm pretty sure I'm not gonna move much for the next few hours, so I'll skidaddle and hopefully return later this week with a holiday blog. I should be able to formulate the right mental mode.

Have a great rest of weekend. I actually used my blanket with the arms for the first time. We normally ignore the sleeves and just use it as a blanket but it proved great for a couch day blog. Shame they look slightly ridiculous really.

Toad in the hole for tea tonight, a British classic and one of my star culinary creations, believe me, there ain't many. Am excited about it already.

Have a chilled Sunday evening and maybe take advantage of a few hours on the couch. I'm sure you deserve it!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

General rants.

Sorry, the holiday blogs still have not materialised. Can't seem to access the right part of my brain but I'm definitely in need of some general rantiness!

Oh my god, how much does it cost to post stuff? I took a package to post today and it cost around half the price of a train ticket to the same place. (And it's a 2 hour train journey, not a local one.) Freakin' ridiculous. For that price I want it transported by fairies or wrapped in a cotton wool cloud and delivered by stork. Or I want it fitted with GPS so you can track it's every movement. Or I want it to appear in the arms of the recipient as if by magic. Fuck!

Talk about fleeced. I also sent a smaller package that barely weighed anything. £2.70. Bloody £2.70. I swear they don't even weigh things anymore they just take a look at the customer, work out what they can afford and then double it. Arse holes.

And what makes it more annoying is that the bigger package only had to be posted because Boots couldn't get their finger out of their arse enough to print my photos in time for me to complete the memory book for my friend's 30th last weekend. And if they had then I wouldn't have had to take additional trips into town, on the bus as I'm now poor and unemployed, and I also would have had it ready to take up to Nottingham with me last weekend, thus no postage charges.


Needless to say the customer service was so bad that I, Helen, one of the most patient and least likely to complain people in the World, (Well, I don't complain to people's faces, that's why I have a blog. Ha.) actually wrote a letter of complaint. So you can imagine just how terrible the service was.

Anyhoo, I've had a shocking eye opener into the world of freelance writing (AKA unemployment) and first impressions are that it's a lonely affair. You have way too much time with your thoughts to let a ridiculous amount of pessimism in and you kinda go a little loopy.

I miss my kids, which is not helping matters. If I had a shit day at work at least I could grab my favourite kid and have a cuddle, or engage them in conversations about ....well nothing really, just mindless prattle and nonsense. Or we could have a singing session and I would instantly feel better. Now it's like....Oh, I'll put a film on. Oh, look, I've done no writing. What a freakin' surprise! Or, oh look I've eaten all the biscuits and I'm now obese.

Why did no body warn me about these adverse side effects. Being a bum is supposed to be fun and exciting. But I just feel, for want of a better word.....blurgh! At the moment I feel blurgh! But I'm hoping once I can establish some sort of routine around my working day, then I will feel ever so slightly less blurgh and hopefully more productive.

That's not to say I've been sat on my arse doing nothing. No no. On the contrary, I've been running errands and making lists and crossing things off lists and researching article writing and tidying and rearranging and re-reading things I've already written, and...the list goes on.......

Still, I made nice burgers the other day for tea and I've been making plans to see people during the week, a rare thing that goes along with lack of regular employment. I have also finally found somewhere to recycle my VHS so am boxing up my Friends and Buffy box sets and posting them off. You just don't realise how much room they take up until you actually get rid of them.

Incidentally I was bought Buffy and Friends complete season box sets for Christmas and have already delved into Friends. (I've missed it so much since it went to Sky. The fuckers take all the good things for themselves. Greedy buggers.) There's something so comforting in episodes you can recite along with, and the knowledge of which line comes next. When you're laughing about the punchline of a joke before they've even said it, that's when you know you're home.

But each episode is longer, uncut and this is throwing my wenus out of whack (Friends joke. You either get it or you don't). There is at least a minute or two or new material in every episode. Some of it is terrible and some of it they really should have left in, but it's weird. I knew practically all the episodes like the back of my hand. And now my hand has become a stranger to me. (MELODRAMA!!!!)

Okay, enough of the insanity. I have writing and re-writing and editing and re-editing and re-reading to do, and it most certainly is not going to do itself.

I have to keep asking people what day it is as I've lost it completely. But apparently today is Thursday, so almost the weekend. Happy Thursday!