To Brighton and Back

For reasons unknown to even myself, I quite like a bit of Olly Murs and he was on in Brighton recently, so we thought we’d head down to Brighton to see him and make a bit of a weekend of it. I haven’t been to Brighton since I was a kid – all I was really expecting, was people wearing interesting clothes and the opportunity to buy vegan shoes. Well, I can tell you, Brighton did not disappoint on either of those fronts.

On our way down we stopped off at Westmeston, which is on the northern slopes of the South Downs (according to Google maps). We had a short wander up the downs (harhar) dodging a number of cow pats along the way. It’s a nice view here and I can see why people would like walking along here, but I don’t like walking along here, or anywhere, because I just don’t really see the point in it unless you are going somewhere… like to the shop to get food, or to a restaurant to get food…

On our way back from our short walk I managed to offend some dog walkers by loudly proclaiming that “poo is definitely a fetish thing”, having reached this topic after having avoided said cow pats and dodging a couple of dog ‘presents’. It must have sounded like it was my fetish thing (which it most definitely is not), so I can understand why they looked at me so, but we’d merely slipped into this convo after I narrowly avoided slipping in the aforementioned cow pat, so you can see how we got there. They did look truly horrified, and I don’t blame them.

 

You have to pay for parking everywhere here, which we categorically refused to do, so we dropped our stuff off at the AirBnb, drove out of the centre and plonked the car in a residential area and started the trek back into Brighton centre. Trek is not an over-exaggeration btw – it took FOREVER. The road just seemed to go on and on and on and on. It didn’t seem to matter how fast or powerfully I put one foot in front of the other, I just didn’t appear to be getting anywhere. People have climbed Mount Everest in a shorter time than it took us to walk back into Brighton, and that’s not even a lie.

To stave off the impending tantrum, we stopped at the Tinto Taperia, for some tapas (if you hadn’t already guessed). Tapas can be a bit hit and miss, but this got a decent rating online, so we thought we’d give it a go and we weren’t disappointed. I’m a big fan of padron peppers, so we weren’t leaving this place without trying some of those, and their patatas bravas and chopitos (deep fried baby squid) were on point, meaning I left one very happy customer. My experience marred only by having to listen to the man on the table next to us talk about marathons, but you can’t have everything.

 

Not to break from tradition, the following evening it was tapas for dinner again or ‘small plates’ according to the restaurant, 64 Degrees in Brighton Lanes. Unfortunately it was tipping it down with rain when we left and en route to the restaurant, I took a shortcut across the front of a hotel as it was under cover. Needless to say I lost my footing in the rain and I went down hard, into a massive puddle of water. As if that wasn’t embarrassing enough, I then couldn’t get up because the bastard tiles were so slippery I actually needed help to get up off the floor.  Rising from the puddle, I found myself completely sodden and dragging myself to dinner, the evening topped off by me getting my coat pocket stuck on the door knob in the restaurant. Excellent.

The food was epic here and we sat up by the kitchen, so we could see everything being made. If you are ever doubting how hard people work in a kitchen, take any opportunity to sit and watch your food being made, because they do not stop! The food was beyond yummy and I’d recommend you book, as the place is tiny.

The following day we’d arranged to have lunch at the Gingerman restaurant. This place popped up on loads of different lists of ‘best places to eat in Brighton’ and the menu looked good, so we were game to give it a try. The food was great, I can’t deny that, but the service was utter crap. Our starters came without too much trouble, but the second lot of drinks we ordered got completely forgotten about, as did our mains. You’d think this would be pretty difficult in a restaurant this small It’s a tiny restaurant, so you can see every table in there with a casting glance) but you didn’t have a hope in hell catching either of the waitresses’ eyes.

Usually you can feel it when someone is staring at you, but it seemed that no matter how long or how hard my eyes bored into the back of their heads, it didn’t make an ounce of difference. In a matter of moments there would have been smoke coming off the back of their heads (that was the level of laser stare I was giving them) when eventually one of them came over with our long forgotten drinks and the main courses we had waited 45 minutes for.

The couple next to us even got served their mains before their starters, so I don’t think we were alone in our experience. We wanted dessert – we’d had our eyes on the apple crumble soufflé from the off – but we’d waited so long now, that we were too hacked off to sit there and wait for another course. It’s a shame, because the food was really good there, but not good enough to make up for the fact that it took about thrice as long as it needed to take, as well as being ignored by the staff for the entire meal… it’s not like I was up for a deep and meaningful conversation with them or anything, but it would have been nice to get the bill before the turn of the century.

 

To cheer ourselves up after this, we went for a wander around the streets of Brighton, taking the opportunity to dive into all the retro, vintage and second-hand shops (and there are a lot of them) we could find. In one of the shops, we came face to face with what I think you would term a ‘complete nutter’. In an antique shop, we were standing looking at some furniture when an old Gollywog toy fell down in front of me. I’d just picked it up to pop it back on the shelf, when I heard some incredibly deep and raspy breathing. I turned round to find an overweight and sweating man, loudly exclaiming (at the same time as loudly mouth breathing) that Gollywog toys “couldn’t possibly be racist”. He had a wild look in his eye and we dodged around him pretty sharpish.

We decided that seeing as we were in Brighton, beside the seaside, we ought to have an ice cream. Earlier on in the day we’d wandered past an ice cream shop with a massive queue in front of it, so, thinking that queue = good, we headed to Gelato Gusto. I lucked out here, because they do dairy free ice cream and it was AMAZING!! You never get good dairy free ice cream, it’s always really melty and icy and it’s always super obvious that it’s dairy free. But not this one – this was hands down the best dairy free ice cream I have had and I’d go as far as saying it was just as good (if not better) than the dairy options there. AND they had sprinkle cones, which made my life.

 

The evening brought with it the Olly Murs concert we had come to Brighton for. Upon entering the concert venue, we came to realise there were two distinctive age groups and we fit neither of them. There were the very young, say, 12 or 13 and there were the quite-a-lot-older, say, 55. Out Olly came, and boy, was he appealing to the latter. There was much more grinding up against the mic stand and gyrating than I had bargained for and at one point someone even shouted “get your cock out Olly”. Ick.

Despite the oddly sexual nature of the show, I did very much enjoy it. I’d forgotten how many absolute bangers Olly Murs had released and he did a few covers of some well-known songs. It was more like a party than it was a concert. He did seem to only play the first 16 bars of each of his songs though, which left me wondering whether he had somehow lost the rights to his own music… but I had a genuinely great time, so you’ll receive no complaints from me, Olly.

Bonnie

When is a hill not a hill, and actually a mountain? When it’s Box Hill, that’s when.

We went for a walk up Box Hill this weekend – turns out it isn’t a hill and it’s actually a mountain, but that’s another matter and far be it from me to email the National Trust and ask them if “hill” is really an accurate representation of the facts. But walking up Box Hill is one of the top things to do in Surrey (apparently), and you should do these things at least once, shouldn’t you? It was my turn to drive and I was weirdly nervous about it. I say “weirdly” like I never get nervous about anything and it’s totally out of the ordinary for me to worry unnecessarily about things (it’s not, as you know). But, WEIRDLY I was really nervy about driving and I kept worrying I was going to forget how to do it because that does happen sometimes. I feel this is on account of driving being a learned skill. It’s not like creativity, you can’t forget how to be creative, you are just a creative person. But you can forget how to drive, because you aren’t a car. So there. It’s a thing and it happens and I definitely can’t be the only one this happens to. It probably happens to Lewis Hamilton as well. Probably.

As it turns out, I didn’t forget how to drive and all my driving was impeccable I’d say, and I didn’t struggle too much with the sat-nav and managed to follow it quite capably. I seem to find it hard to have both the verbal directions and the screen directions, and I can’t concentrate with them both and I end up paying zero attention to the road, which isn’t ideal, so I tend to mute the woman and just look at where I am supposed to be going. Also, I don’t really like her telling me what to do and I feel I should be able to make my own decisions, and that by muting her, I am taking back some ownership.

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Wait. Let’s back track for a moment. I said “we” went to Box Hill. “We” as in two people, two people as in a couple and half of this couple isn’t one of my weird selection of friends, for once. The other half of this couple is a real boy! Well, man really, but I am just trying to assure you he is a real person and not a cardboard cut out (he isn’t, I promise), but I’m now worried that I have promised when I didn’t need to and now you don’t believe me. ACK! Oh well, believe what you want, but he’s real, I promise… Christ. Oh, and not only is he real, but he is hella handsome. So step back bitches – he’s mine. Don’t make me hurt you.

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Anywho; we (yasss!!) got to Box Hill in one piece and started on our (yay!!) merry way along the stepping stones walk. Our “merry” way lasted for approximately 6 seconds before the path turned into a treacherous set of steps, slick with mud and the souls of those who had fallen. Seriously, I have slipped about less on an ice rink. The situation was diabolical and I am genuinely surprised I didn’t end up on my arse, caked in mud, next to the skeleton of the last girl who slipped as a result of her inappropriate footwear and never made it out alive. Some of us ended up on our arses, but it wasn’t me… HEH.

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Watching people slip and slide around activated my inner cringe gauge and I genuinely have aching abs from all the internal cringing I was doing, plus all the laughing I was doing at people falling over. I did a lot of laughing. I laughed until my face hurt and I couldn’t really breathe much and I lost the ability to walk (see, the learned skills just escape me).

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We got to the stepping stones and I was silently willing someone to fall in. I know it’s not right to will people to make a fool of themselves, but I genuinely can’t help it and I couldn’t stop my mind urging them to make a fatal error and slip into the water. Alas, no one did, and I know I shouldn’t say it’s a shame, but it’s a shame. I posed for a quick photo on the stepping stones, which turned out to be the only in-focus pic of me from the entire day (thanks hun, the next David Bailey you are not).

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Rocking the nerdy camera-clad look
Finally, we were on firmer ground. To have grass beneath my feet was for the world to be right again. I was living the dream. There was a cute little footbridge, upon which I challenged my masculine company to a game of Pooh sticks. The masculine company didn’t know what that was, so I graciously explained the rules of Pooh sticks to the obvious newcomer to the field, then selected my stick. I released my stick from my grasp, sure that I was going to win (considering I had experience on my side) then dashed over to the other side of the bridge to await my sweet victory. Shit. I lost. Can you even believe I lost? I lost!!!!!!! I hate losing. I’m convinced it was a fix, there is no other explanation. How did he win????????????????

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After the Pooh stick fiasco, we headed on up the hill. Oh wait, not the hill, the mountain, and not just any mountain, it was akin to trekking up Mount Everest. I was half expecting Sherpa Tensing to pop up and offer to carry the bags. If only he had, it may have reduced the amount of sweating that was done. I had to take my coat off half way up. I had to stop and take a photo of some cows, not because I wanted photos of cows, but purely so I had an excuse to catch my breath.

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I give you: cows
I’d got to the point where I couldn’t really get a decent lungful of air. Every breath hurt, and I was 99% sure I was close to a lung collapsing. To our shame, as we got to the top of the hill, we were met by a literal granny, who was bounding up the hill, assisted merely by the arm of a woman I assume to be her daughter. If I can get up a hill with breathing apparatus at that age, I will be impressed, let alone walking unaided – which I struggle with now to be honest.

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photo credit @notdavidbailey
Bonnie

The Fast Arm Slow Feet Hypotheses

I was jazzed today. I went into work feeling GREAT and I was sure I was going to get as much done as humanly possible. As you can imagine, it didn’t really work out like that, as usual. There was a ridiculous amount of traffic on the way this morning, and a journey which usually takes me 10 minutes, ended up taking me 40 minutes. I was not happy about this. There were temporary lights (which I am pretty sure should be in Room 101 – no justification required please Frank Skinner) and I crawled all the way there. In fact, crawling would have been quicker, I’m sure of it.

Eventually I got to work, and I remembered that we had a 2 hour long gathering of the whole company, so watch presentations about all the new stuff that is going to be happening and how good or badly we had done over the last few months. Now, I am super sad, and I love watching these things – all my mates think I am a complete loser. But I like hearing about what other departments are doing, and I like watching people speaking. Also, there are always videos to watch, and I LOVE a video.

Turns out, 2 hours is a long time to concentrate, and I did have to glance at some graphs on a screen, which is quite a distressing thing for me to have to do, and by the end of the 2 hours I was slumped in my chair and staring blurry eyed at the ceiling. Even the complimentary breakfast was doing nothing to keep me from losing concentration. That took us up to 11, and then it’s pretty much lunch time, so there was no point in really starting anything.

It was katsu chicken curry on the menu today as well, and one never gets much work done in anticipation of katsu. No one. It didn’t even bother me in the slightest that I had to queue for 15 whole minutes to get my lunch. In fact, all it does it prove that katsu is THE BEST and it simply cannot be beaten, ever. I ate it all and I felt sick, but it was worth it. I’m still not sure it’s gone down.

Ellie and I went out for a walk at lunch and discussed the finer points of whether it is easier to walk with fast feet and slow arms, or slow feet and fast arms. It was quite a conundrum, and a puzzle worth solving I feel, so we gave it some thought.

Our reckoning is, that it is easier to walk with fast feet and slow arms, because you can almost waltz it, but if you are fast-arming it, your feet have no choice but to engage in the fastness, and you can’t stop yourself from zooming along like a complete cretin. By the way, to get to this lofty point of knowledge, we had to test our hypothesis, and unsurprisingly, walking like this down the road gets you a lot of looks from the people driving past… A lot of looks. Especially when you are walking past a hospital. I’m not sorry about it though, despite the fact that we must have looked like we were clinically insane escapees, we have done some ground-breaking work on the matter. And that, friends, makes us pretty much scientists.

After all that walking, and at various speeds, I was rather tired, so there was next to no chance of any achievement happening after lunch. Plus, there is only so much you can achieve in one day, and no one likes an overachiever do they?

 

Bonnie

Party and wallpaper paste 

My best friend Claire has been planning a surprise birthday party for her parent’s 30th wedding anniversary. Over the past few months, our garage has been filling up with things she needed to hide from them and it has taken all my strength not to crack open the case of prosecco that has been living with us. All my strength. Claire and her boyf Pete came round to collect everything the other day, and I have to say, I was sad to see the prosecco go, but I’m sure I will cope with the loss.

Anyway, they popped round to collect everything and stuck their heads in to say hi to my dad who was decorating the living room. Claire made the mistake of asking why my dad (Les) was using ready-mixed wallpaper paste. The exchange goes something like this:

C: Les, why on earth are you using ready-mixed wallpaper paste?

L: Claire, do not even speak to me about the wallpaper paste

C: Christ Les, what on earth happened?

L: well, I bought some paste to mix up myself. I mixed it up as I usually do and hung the wallpaper just like I usually do. I’ve been mixing wallpaper paste for decades and never had a problem. But I come downstairs the next day and bastard wallpaper has fallen off the wall!

C: Did you use too much water?

L: [after giving Claire the eye] I had never experienced such a thing before, so I rang up Solvite to talk to them about it. The lady on the end of the phone suggested I may be using a contaminated bucket. So I went to the shop and purchased myself a new bucket for the steep price of £1.02. Just in case I had mixed it wrong, I read the back of the packet and mixed it as per the instructions. Then I set about steaming off the paper that hadn’t quite fallen off, at which point the bloody plaster fell off the wall, leaving a great big hole.

C: That’s an added aggravation for sure

L: Indeed. But, I set about hanging the wallpaper for the second time, with the freshly mixed paste. Everything seemed to go well and I was pleased with the result. Until I came down the next day and the BLOODY WALLPAPER HAD FALLEN OFF AGAIN! In a fit of rage and despair I went to Homebase and bought some ready-mixed wallpaper paste. So do not ever, EVER ask me about wallpaper paste.

C: it must have been a dud batch

B: told you not to ask him about the wallpaper paste

 

After this exchange that had left Pete with a look of horror on his face and enough ammunition for wallpaper related nightmares for the rest of his life, they left to carry on setting up the party. It is now the evening of the party and I am running late because it took forever to get out of London and back home. I race in and thunder up the stairs to get ready. In 15 minutes I have showered, put on some makeup and got myself dressed – I think that must be a world record for the fastest time ever to get ready for a formal do.


The look: I’m wearing a pale/mint green strapless dress from New Look which I got in the sale and I pair of silver shoes and a matching clutch bag. The makeup is minimal, and all I have on is a light layer of foundation, a bit of eye shadow, mascara and a hint of eyebrow. I’ve had my hair in a bun all day so it is nicely curly, and all I do it sweep it over my shoulder and put a couple of pins in it.

From the front
From the back

I make it to the party about 9pm and I’ve just missed the food (killer!) so, after greeting everyone I hang around in the kitchen and pester the caterers for some leftovers. I shove a couple of lamb and chicken skewers down the hatch in a gannet-esque way, top up with my glass with prosecco and make my way back out to mingle.  I sink another couple of glasses of prosecco in quick succession, seeing as it’s free, and spy Pete’s dad. Last time I had met Pete’s dad we were rather worse for wear at the army vs navy rugby in Twickenham, so I made my way over to him and his wife to strike up some conversation.

And strike up conversation we did. We always have major laughs together, myself and Paul, and Helen was quite the third wheel during proceedings. Until a man that I had never met before came over to pay me a compliment. Unfortunately he was no handsome young millionaire man. In fact, he looked like one of the house boat people, and by that, I mean he had that grimey look about him that told me he didn’t like to waste water washing. He had teamed a fetching Berghaus fleece with a pair of shorts, boat shoes and a rather eye catching pair of orange over the ankle socks. But, he did say I looked gorgeous, so I’ll take it – whatever the sock situation.

End of the night slow dance

All of a sudden everyone had disappeared around us and Claire’s dad was serving me a voddy, lime and soda which was particularly heavy on the voddy. I was feeling fine though and we packed everything up and Claire dropped me home. It was at this point that I became drunk. I had to wobbled up the stairs to my room and Gail greeted me at the top of the stairs. She asked me if I was alright, to which I replied “I don’t think I’m not” and then stumbled into my room.

Fave selfie of the eve

Obviously I thought it was a good idea to start messaging people at this point. Surprisingly my spelling was perfect (it wasn’t) and I was making total sense (I really wasn’t). This was like the moment I Wolf of Wall Street where Leo’s character Jordan thinks he has driven the car home fine when in fact he has smashed it up, leaving a trail of destruction around him. Clearly my misspellings aren’t quite as dramatic as that drug fuelled carnage, but they are funny nonetheless.

I also managed to take a few horrifying selfies when I was under the influence. Clearly I was thinking I was Kate Moss or something. Kate, I certainly am not. Not even slightly. Horrifying.

Exhibit A
Exhibit B

Bonnie

Room 317 and a couple of Asian guys

This weekend was ridiculously busy. On Friday afternoon I came home from work and baked two cheesecakes for a friend. That took a couple of hours and then I needed to pack for the weekend. I was leaving at 7pm to travel to the ExCel Centre in London for a rowing competition where I was looking after some kids for the weekend. I packed all of my stuff up and started on my travels to get to the ExCel centre.

Chocolate cheesecake
New York cheesecake

We got there, signed all the kids in and got them settled down for the night in what is essentially an aircraft hangar – I do not envy them sleeping in that. They were all shouting and screaming and generally making a nuisance of themselves, so we left them to it and made for a bar. We went to one of the hotels nearby and got a couple of drinks. Two drinks cost £19.25 – I was aghast! £19.25?! You must be having a laugh!!! Thank God I wasn’t paying because I probably would have had a heart palpitation at the bar.

Still reeling after the price of the drinks, we headed outside to grab a seat. I spied a table where there which looked like it was taken, but no one was sitting there, so I sat down there, because I am just like that. I like to see what happens when people come together unexpectedly and this is a great way to force an interaction. So, we sit there for a couple of minutes and these two guys head towards the table we are sitting at. They come up to the table and start taking their stuff of the table, at which point I say “OMG is this your table? I am so sorry, please, let us move!”, like I didn’t already know. The guys actually asked if they could sit with us instead and of course I said yes.

Packing light

Meet Mandeep and Suraj. Mandeep and Suraj are a little bit on the merry side and they have just returned from the bar with a glass of Japanese whisky each. We get to talking and it turns out they are good mates who haven’t seen each other in a couple of years and they are here to catch up on old times. They insist on incessantly pointing out that they are Asian, but not at all religious which I find terribly amusing, and point out on a number of occasions that “God doesn’t go here” – whatever that means. We chat about any old thing for a couple of hours, me coming out absolutely side-splittingly hilarious quips and them falling about laughing over my sarcastic tone and dead pan delivery (that’s how I remember it anyway).

Somehow it comes up in conversation that Suraj is here and staying at the hotel because he’s upset his wife. He won’t go into any great detail over exactly what he did (even though I tried my best to force it out of him), but I naturally assume it is something sordid – because a tiff just wouldn’t be interesting. He then starts saying about how he could be out sleeping with other women and getting up to mischief, but instead he is here with one of his mates, having a chilled night at the hotel. This makes me even more sure it has to be something like an affair, because why would you even mention it otherwise? After this, he starts getting a bit cuddly and putting his arm around me, and then the other guy makes his way round to my side of the table and sits next to me. So, I’m the filling to a manwich at the moment, and a manwich that is getting decidedly drunker by the second.

Morning glory?

His mate starts getting a bit on edge and gets up to go, he’d been looking at his phone on and off for a few minutes, so I assume he must have got a better offer. Once him and his mate have had a bit of a spat about him leaving, I ask Suraj what he would be doing this evening if he hadn’t met us, and the following dialogue opened up:

S: snorting cocaine and watching porn in my hotel room.

B: what sort of porn?

S: anything.

B: that’s a bit broad isn’t it?

S: maybe I’m into some freaky stuff, you don’t know I’m not.

B: maybe you are, but I seriously doubt it.

S: I could fuck you until the cows come home, you know that right? I could absolutely fuck you until the cows come home.

B: A charming sentiment indeed, but I don’t eat beef.

At this point my eyes were watering because I was laughing so hard internally. This guy was being deadly serious and it was taking all of my power not to laugh in his face. Myself and my mate (whose name is Nick by the way, I just realised I forgot to mention that) gave one another the eye and we stood to leave. I wasn’t overly keen on being fucked until the “cows came home” by Suraj and neither was Nick I don’t think.

We said our goodbyes and Suraj seemed very keen on coming to watch the rowing comp the next day (as if he actually was) and he wanted to know where he could come and watch (as if he actually did), and promised he would be there the next day (as if he actually would). We said goodbye and hugged it out and Suraj said rather loudly in my ear “my room number is 317, if you want a comfy bed for the night”.

The bed I actually slept in – 317 might have been a shout

Bonnie

A grand day out: the 12 hour day sesh

Saturday was the day we were going for brunch at Jackson Rye in Richmond (we being myself and Claire). We’ve had this in the calendar for what seems like months and I was getting so excited to see my best friend and spend some QT with the girl.


Lets start with the most important thing; the outfit. Who even knows what to wear out for a day where you have no idea how long you will be out, and no idea what you are doing? You wear jeans of course. I donned the trust M&S mum jeans which are about 2 sizes too big these days and turned those suckers up (I am a FAN of an ankle). I whacked out a blue Primark shirt from last year which has hearts all over it and buttoned that up to the top. Next followed the “gold” (obvs gold coloured) collar clips, white frilly socks and grey suede trainer things. Obviously I do nothing with my hair because I am lazy… Outfit: COMPLETED.

#awkwardpose


Claire’s boyf v. kindly drives us to Richmond in his gangta BMW and we arrive at Jackson Rye at precisely 1.30 pm. Which is good for me because it turns out, that I am rarely on time.  We order a bottle of prosecco and a Farmers breakfast each and eagerly await its arrival. The prosecco arrives and you would have thought we’d ordered a bottle of Bolly the way the bloke was treating it. Everything was done with a flourish and a mouthful of the good stuff was provided for us to taste. Obviously it is tasty AF and we give the guy the “okay” to fill those glasses up.

That bacon slab tho

Breakfast arrives and our beans are in tiny saucepans (I frickin’ love anything that is miniature) and we set about devouring what I thought was a relatively reasonably priced plate of food. Considering it is in Richmond and it’s by the river, I didn’t thing £8.95 was too steep. After this we toddled off down the river towards Slug and Lettuce in the search for a cocktail (or two… or three). We start off the proceedings with an apple mojito and delighted in some “banter” when the barman smashed one of the glasses. “You just don’t know your own strength do you!?”, I exclaimed, in the typical sarcastic tone of Bonnie. Both a compliment and an insult at the same time – my speciality.

Cocktails with bae

We swiftly followed the apple mojito with a raspberry version and it was at this point that we noticed the pineapple vodka behind the bar. There was nothing strictly pineapple on the cocktail menu, so with a bit of cajoling and sweet talking, we managed to persuade one of the guys to make us a pineapple cocktail. Mint, lime, crushed ice, pineapple vodka and pineapple juice, topped up with soda. THE DREAM. He still wasn’t convinced though. But I am fairly certain we have created a new drink and I won’t be surprised if we see it on the menu next week. At this point we decided we needed a Cinnamon Social Slice from Ole and Steen which is perhaps the tastiest thing in the world. I can’t even describe it, you literally just have to try it.

Oink oink

We ambled back to the riverside, locating a kitty to stroke on the way, and sat on the edge to admire the view. Obviously by this time we had worked up quite a thirst, so back to Slug and Lettuce we went for another pineapple masterpiece. It was during the 5th cocktail that we decided we simply must get the boat down the river to Kingston. So, we mooched along the bank and jumped straight on the boat. Arriving in Kingston, obviously we had worked up quite a thirst, so we headed to The Ram and treated ourselves to a bottle of wine (because there is nothing quite like mixing drinks) and sat in the garden, discussing work and deciding that we could do a better job than any CEO out there because we know what we are doing better than anyone.

Selfie galore

We decided we were hungry and we made our way round to Las Iguanas for some tapas. Obviously we had worked up quite a thirst, so we ordered 3 plates of tapas and 4 cocktails (sorry not sorry), which judging by the photos, definitely had pineapple in them. If I cannot stick to one form of alcohol I will at least stick to one form of fruit juice, because that’s the kind of girl I am. We’d finished the drinks and we decided we needed a change of scenery. So, we tottered round to the Spoon’s. Obviously we’d worked up quite a thirst, so we made haste to the bar and ordered 2 Desperados.

Quality of shots diminishing here

We spotted a lad that we knew so we invaded his personal place and plonked ourselves down at his table. Some of his mates turned up and proceeded to ignore us completely whilst they served the freshest of banter (not) and talked about cars. We couldn’t even tempt them into buying us another drink, so we made our way to the dance floor. We had a cheeky dance here before we went over the road to Pryzm, because is it even a night out if you don’t make it to Pryzm? We dance, we drink, we dance, we drink. I’m not sure how much more we drank, but at some point we left and got an Uber. My phone had run out of battery at this point so I spent the Uber ride home eating chicken nuggets and chips and probably gettting mayo over the car seats (maybe that explains the 4 star rating). I stumble inside and up to my room about 1.30 am.

A great day out. A great night out. Nothing like the day sesh eh? The day sesh which turns into the evening sesh, which turns into the sesh. It’s funny really, when you think about it, because we thought we would be back about 6pm. We probably should be dead in the gutter.


Bonnie

I never realised how much time I spent on my knees until…

Here’s the story about how I came to realise how much time I spend on my knees.

At the weekend I was helping out at a kayaking regatta (because I do that sort of thing at the weekend). Clearly I enjoy getting up at the crack of dawn on a Saturday morning and zooming around the Thames on a boat, in my trackies, with no makeup on. Anyway, the course needs laying and the signs need floating in a dinghy and anchoring at either end of the course.

Anchoring is hard work. Never have I engaged so much core, as when I am heaving an anchor on and off a boat and then lowering it in to the Thames. Once I have anchored these dinghy’s, I set about laying the course. All this involves is putting weighted buoys in the water in a straight line. This is easier said than done. An hour of leaning over the side of a boat and heaving what felt like 1000 buoys into the water and getting completely soaked, they were finally out and the course was laid.

Next came the kayakers. They needed to be transported to the start of the course, with their kayaks and their paddles. Have you ever tried fitting 4 kayakers, 4 kayaks, 4 paddles a helmsman and me in a boat? Of course you haven’t, and my advice is not to try it.  The only way of making this work, was to get the 4 racers to sit in the cabin of the boat out of the way. Shove two of the kayaks up against the cabin (so you can no longer see the people) and me stand there in front of the kayaks holding them up. Next you put two more kayaks in front of me to hold, and you have the guy steering the boat. But, because of all the kayaks in the way, there is no way he can control the speed of the boat. So I am forced to awkwardly squat down whilst holding on to all kayaks and do the throttle control. HA. We had one slightly hairy moment where we almost crashed into a stationary boat because I had thought the guy steering the boat had told me to speed up when he had asked me to slow down. But all told, I think one near miss isn’t too bad considering the circumstances.

When we got to the start of the course, we had to swing one kayak out over the side of the boat and into the water, hold it there so the kayaker could get in and repeat until all kayakers were in the water. Now, this sounds easier than it is. Me trying to steady a kayak for a burly teenager, who is certainly not light on his feet, is hard work. I spent the whole day half laying on the floor with my legs pressed up against the side of the boat, so I could get enough purchase to hold the kayak steady. It was more like having tiny elephants jumping into kayaks, I swear.

By the end of the day my shins are shot to shit and my knees have been officially crushed. I quite literally cannot walk and I’m staggering around the place like a drunk. There is no way I can bend my knees and I am lurching to the car stiff legged like a maniac. At this point I realise I am going to have to bend my legs if I want to drive home, so letting out a throaty screech I throw myself in to the car and assume the seated position.

Its when I get home that everything really starts to go pear shaped. I have to practically roll out of the car because my legs are stuck in that position and I can’t move them. Then I have to drag myself up the stairs using a fair amount of upper body strength (I looked like one of the un-dead at this point), with much grunting and groaning – I imagine I sounded like a warthog in mating season. I finally make it to my room and kneel on my bed. Why I did that I still cannot explain. I have never experienced pain like it. I screamed so loudly that my dad came rushing in thinking something terrible had happened, only to find out that I had knelt with too much gusto (yes, my dad is aware I am 100% nuts). My shins were so sore that even the duvet pressing against them was too painful and I ended up sleeping in the cold all night because that was better than the hell that ensued each time I tried to snuggle up.

Who needs knees when you have these?

There is more kneeling involved in my average day than one might think. It turns out, I kneel a lot. I kneel to reach for things, I kneel to carry out activities, I kneel on my chair, I kneel on my bed, I rest my knee against pretty much everything all of the time. I pretty much kneel or rest my knees against something 100% of the time, and 100% of the time, is a lot of the time. In fact, it is all of the time. I actually swore in the office when I bashed my knee against the printer. I received a good deal of disparaging stares as I hopped about the print room like a demented flamingo, swearing under my breath.

I never realised how much time I spend on my knees until… I’d helped out at a kayaking regatta. My advice? Don’t.

Bonnie

 

 

When I was a princess for the day

Every year we have a raft race as part of our village fair. Each year there is a theme and this year it was princesses and pirates. Not one to say no to an opportunity to release my inner princess ad dress up for the day I got a team together and we put our names down, Now, this is where I have to mention that the only people I could get to do it with me were 3 kids and they all wanted to be pirates, But whatever… They aren’t going to stop me from being the true princess that I am.

Just before I got sprayed in the face with a water cannon and drank half the Thames

So once we had filled in the form I started looking online for princess outfits. I don’t know if you have ever tried to find a princess outfit for an adult but it is nigh on impossible (this I hadn’t anticipated), The only options you have are trying to squeeze yourself into an age 13-14 Elsa dress or purchasing a less tan appropriate slutty princess outfit. There is no way I was going to be able to squeeze my boobs and butt into a kids costume and there was even less of a chance of me wearing stockings and suspenders to the family fair, So the only option I had left was to make it myself.

Tiaraing

Needless to say I didn’t give it much more thought than that. I had an idea in my head and there was no way I was wavering from that. I looked online for material which is a ridiculous thing to do, because how can you tell what material is like on a screen? So I came to the conclusion that I was actually going to have to go out and look in a shop for said material. I had a look in a local fabric show and there wasn’t anything that took my fancy, I wasn’t sure what colour I wanted and I was just sort of hoping I’d know it was ‘the one’ when I saw it. Anyway, I couldn’t find anything I liked the look of in this fabric shop, so I decided that the only other option for me was to find something like a set of curtains or bed linen that tickled my fancy.

So I went in to places like Marks and Spencers and Next, where I came to the conclusion that all their bed linen is madly expensive and I couldn’t possibly justify spending £65 on a fancy dress outfit. One of the last places I went to was Matalan, and low and behold there was a lilac double duvet cover that was just what I was looking for (for the mere price of £12 no less)! As soon as I got home I set to work straight away – again I had absolutely no idea what I was doing and I was just winging it.


I cut out a massive circle from the plain bit of the duvet cover for the skirt part, making sure it was big enough to fall from my waist to my shin with extra for hemming. Then I hemmed it all the way around the bottom which took FOREVER as I was doing it by hand. Once I had done the full mile of hemming I cut a hole in the middle of the circle so it would go around my waist and then hemmed that bit. It was at the point that I had hemmed that part that I suddenly realised there was no way of me getting it over my head, so I cut a small slit in the wait and added a popper so I could do it back up. Perfecto…Not! But it will do.

Now for the top – I used the quilted bit of the duvet cover for this because I thought the contrast in materials would be nice, and it was also a thicker material. Essentially all I did here was make a tube out out of the material so I could simply slip it over my head and tuck it into the skirt. Obviously this looked hugely messy and I wasn’t happy, So I decided that I would need to make a belt to cover up the join. I did this using more of the quilted material and added some poppers so I could fasten it. After a cheeky press on the ironing board it was time to try it on. My god I am excited. EXCITEDDD!!!

So I struggle into the skirt (despite the split and popper fix, I still have to dislocate my shoulder to get it over my head), and wriggle the top on over my head. After much wriggling I have broken a bit of a sweat and I have to have a rest before continuing. I put the belt round my waist and popper up. Its a tad tight, but no matter, I will just not breathe when I am wearing it. I don the tiara and the white gloves I bought on Amazon. And OHMYGODILOOKLIKEAFREAKINGPRINCESS!!!!! I am beyond pleased with the outcome of my incredibly haphazard and risky attempt of dressmaking.

The finished article

I am genuinely so pleased with how well this turned out and I really did feel like a princess for the whole day and I really didn’t want to take it off. If I hadn’t have got soaked with lovely green Thames river water I probably would have slept in it.


So here’s to giving it a go and not being afraid to princess it up now and again!

Bonnie

Then before and after

Madrid: Day 3, uncorked 

Our last full day in Madrid left nothing to be desired – it was exactly as we wanted it to be (which happens less than you may think on holidays). I think the reason behind this was becasue we had no time pressures, we weren’t going to see anything,we had nothing planned and we had no set timings. We also had no preconceived ideas of what the day was going to be like or how we wanted it to go.

We woke up around 11 am, so we had a good lay in (which to be honest I hardly ever get a chance to do when I’m away because my days tend to be packed full of things to do). Once we were up and about we wandered back to a shop we had found the day before which sold empanadas, where we bought not one, not two, but four different empanadas to share. We also picked up a bottle of wine, some lemonade and some crisps in a little super market. Now laden with picnic items, we began to meander our way to the Buen Retiro Park. 


We got there and there were these really odd trees, the had been shaped so they looked like strange little puffs of green stuck on the end of the branches – so that obviously meant 10 minutes of iPhone photography to try and nail the good lighting through the tree that made us look all glowy (you tell me whether we succeeded or not – I suspect not). With the photo shoot completed we walked on toward the ‘lake’. Now ‘lake’ is a very loose term here, as what it really is, is a giant swimming pool with some fish and a few terrapins in it, but it has boats on it, so a lake we shall call it. 

We found a nice sunny spot next to the lake with a bit of shade from some trees so I could hide my pale skin from the inevitable burn when the sun got too hot. We laid out the picnic blanket with a flourish and parked our buttocks firmly on the (slightly damp) grass. The menu was as follows:

Empanada 1: spicy tuna – yummo

Empanada 2: chicken – not sure where the chicken was 

Empanada 3: cheese and ham – tasted like a cat food filled doughnut 
Empanada 4: chorizo [insert Spanish lisp here] – yummo 

White wine: nice and tasty, but harder to consume than planned, which I will explain. 
We made the classic idiot English mistake of buying a bottle of wine with a corkscrew in it and not a screw top. And not being seasoned alcoholics, neither of us had a corkscrew in out bags. I know, I can practically hear you sighing at me over this. It is THE classic mistake to make when getting wine for a picnic and you look so typically touristy googling ‘How to uncork wine without a corkscrew’. So stupidly, the first thing we tried to do was push the cork inside the bottle. Now I think about it this is clearly a terrible idea as obviously you can’t push it inside the bottle because of the pressure, but I’m going to say we had had to much sun at this point and it had affected our intelligence. We then read online that you can get the cork out but firmly hitting the bottom of the bottle against a tree or similar, but we were too scared to do this for fear of the bottle smashing and wasting wine or resulting in serious injury.
So forlorn and seriously sober, I began to search through my bag for an implement that may assist us in our quest for alcoholic grape juice. And low, the holy grail was found – a pair of tweezers. I promptly set about gouging out the cork (which was halfway down the neck of the bottle after the previously ill fated attempt at removal) which took distinctly longer than I had anticipated. One pair of ruined tweezers later we were finally able to consume our wine, and thank God it was decent to drink – otherwise I think I would have lost my shit after all that effort. 
Wine consumed, we decided it would be a great idea to take out one of the bathtubs they were calling a rowing boat on the lake. We hired a ‘boat’ for 45 minutes for the mere price of €6, which we thought was rather reasonable. We plonked ourselves down in the boat and headed out on to the lake. To say it was utter carnage out there would be an understatement. Boats were lurching around in all directions, the oarsmen bearing no regard to the other vessels. We managed to make it out to a clear spot, on the way to which we saw a dead fish (cod rest his sole) and a terrapin, or a floaty tortoise (which I think is a much better name). Here is where Claire spied a ledge that she thought would be the perfect place to precariously rest her Polaroid camera so we could use the remaining 2 photos doing ‘action’ shots of us rowing. 


We rowed into place, rested the camera precariously on the ledge and set the timer and with the 3 seconds we had, pushed off hard from the side and quickly posed for the camera, then rowed hastily back to the side so a gust of wind didn’t blow our polaroid away. We did this twice in all, and it is safe to say we must have looked like utter nutters to any passers by, of which there must have been many. But I don’t care, because the photos were great and the proof is here for all to see.


Bonnie