Heading back to Moresby island today in preparation for our boat expedition the following day. We had to go back through Queen Charlotte to get there, meaning we HAD to stop at Queen B’s café, we really didn’t have a choice. First, however, we went for a little mooch around the town. We treated ourselves to another totem pole viewing and saw a truck load of bald eagles circling around above us and chilling on the beach.
As well as a row of ravens sitting next to the kid’s park. I think they wanted to have a go on the slide but thought we’d judge them if they hopped on (I would have FYI).
I had an enchilada at Queen B’s, which was scrummy and topped it off with a slice of pumpkin and pecan pie, which beat that enchilada hands down, even though it was a pretty good enchilada. But ain’t no enchilada as good as no pie. U get me?
We got to our hotel on Moresby Island, which was The Sandspit Inn. My door didn’t really shut, but that was easily overcome by using my total bodyweight to yank it shut after me. If you think about it, it’s pretty much an additional safety feature – no one is going to waltz in and steal my things if the door is too big for the frame and they can’t open it, are they? No, they aren’t. After battling with that for a while, I laid on the bed and vegetated for a while/the rest of the evening.
The evening was turning into night and I was looking forward to bedding down and getting in a good night’s sleep before we started exploring via boat the next day. No sooner than my head rested upon the pillow, did the hotel bar turn into some sort of club and start pumping out all of the bass. I don’t mind a bit of loud music, but it really is a surprise when your hotel turns out to be an absolute slave to the sesh and not the least bit interested in their guests getting a decent amount of shut eye. I can only imagine how loud the music would have been if my door wasn’t quite so snug in the door frame. Silver linings and all that.
We headed to a place called Port Clements today, there’s not much there and to be honest it wasn’t really worth the drive, but we did stop for another slice of pie on the way there (see, told you I’d opened the floodgate). The pie was at a place called Angela’s place, which happened to be another gas station-cum-diner, or a ‘social café and fuel station’ as per the sign.
I’d say that this pie had a better filling than the previous nights, but the pastry wasn’t as nice… So, I can’t say which one was better… I’d possibly lean towards the first one as the whole experience was just a little better.
We stopped to see the Golden Spruce on our way back, which was a GIANT let down. Basically, it used to be this big gold coloured spruce tree, until some proper nut job cut it down in a protest. I’m all for a protest and that, but cutting down a super old one-of-a-kind tree? Nah. You can have a little read about that sitch here, if you’re interested. Anyway, so we went there to look at this stump, which was exactly that – a stump. I’ll give you £1 if you can even see a hint of golden in this pic… thought not.
In this park, there were some huge trees, like, properly massive trees. Well over the wingspan of one girl. Some of them, it probably would have taken about 8 or 9 of you holding hands to go all the way around the tree.
I feel like most of what I talk about revolves around food, but I’m actually fine about that, so here’s some more about food… Because dinner was SO good last night, we went to Sherri’s Gas Bar & Grill again to eat. We had a summer salad, which was mad tasty – I’ve never had raspberries, blackberries, mandarin and nuts in a salad before, but I WILL be having it again, Mouth-watering doesn’t even begin to do this justice.
Following on from yesterday’s crab cakes, I couldn’t help but opt for another crab-containing meal. I had a crab patty burger, which was NEXT LEVEL. It was just… I can’t even describe it, it was so yummy. Moist, perfectly seasoned, beyond fresh. I could wax lyrical about this crab burger for the rest of the day if no one stopped me. Is anyone going to stop me? I tell you what would stop me though; stuffing my face with another crab burger.
Obviously, there was room for pie. Apple pie and lemon meringue pie (promise I didn’t eat both slices on my own). Apple pie was distinctly better than the lemon meringue – nicely spiced, pastry was fierce and the whole thing was just on ittttt.
Yummo. See, pie is becoming a serious problem for me. Like, it may even be an addiction. I’ve had 3 different kinds of pie in 1 day. HELP!
On the agenda today: making it back to Dawson City. We drive pretty much the entire way, without seeing a single thing; clearly our luck is never going to change, and we are never going to see a single interesting animal at any point during this entire month-long holiday. Are there even animals in Canada? Does a single mammal exist, larger than a squirrel? Well, it turns out, they do exist.
We’re not far away from Dawson City when we see a grizzly bear at the side of the road. I think we nearly all died in our seats – we genuinely couldn’t believe what we were seeing. All this time without seeing a bear, listening to everyone else we’d met telling us about all these amazing bear sighting, and we hadn’t even caught a glimpse of one. And here one was, literally a metre away from us, and with a 1-year-old cub!!
They were scared of passing traffic (particularly the little one) and each time a vehicle came past, the little one shot up onto the bank and into the trees, out of harm’s way.
We probably sat there for about half an hour, just watching them go about their business, munching on the grass and mooching about together. Bears are just glorious, are they not? If you think they’re not – then I am not interested to hear it, quite frankly.
High on bear spice, we carry on along down the road, only to see a MOOSE!! It wasn’t a daddy moose – so there were no giant antlers, but it was a moose all the same. The lady moose ran across the road, then made her way across a pretty deep stream (unsure at what point it becomes a river) and popped back out the other side. Our luck is truly changing!
We get to Dawson City and check into the Westmark Hotel. Now, this is by far the nicest hotel we stayed in on this holiday – but it is also the worst, and I’ll tell you for why. No WiFi, that’s why. There’s WiFi in the communal areas, but you can’t get WiFi in you room and I am SO not about that life. Why would you do that to people? WHY??? It’s like they are tantalising you with the possibility of good connectivity, and then just whipping it away at the last moment. I would rather stay in a much less nice hotel, with a normal WiFi policy.
That evening, we went to Diamond Tooth Gerties. Diamond Tooth Gerties is a gambling hall, where they do shows each evening; a ‘Vaudeville’ show (according to Wikipedia). Diamond Tooth Gerties is also Canada’s oldest casino – this knowledge is also courtesy of Wikipedia. For not that many Canadian dollars, you can spend an evening in Diamond Tooth Gerties – not only can you spend a night there, but your ticket is valid for the rest of the month, so you can spend the whole month there if you want to… or was it the rest of the year? I can’t remember now. Either way, it was a long time.
You can have your fill of dancing girls doing the can-can and flashing their bloomers. Many a quick change is done, and Diamond Tooth Gertie herself has a good old sing-song. Okay, it’s not the best thing I’ve ever seen in my life, but it’s a definite laugh.
The splits are done many times (as was much wincing on my part) and legs were more often above heads than not. They even get up a few guys from the audience to have a go – which is more than amusing.
Ooh, something I completely forgot to mention! In Dawson City, it can legit be 15 degrees Celsius, and EVERYONE is out in their flip-flops and shorts, and I mean EVERYONE. I’m sorry, but +15 is not warm enough to take your jacket off outside, let alone wear minimal clothing. These people are complete nutters, I swear.
When is there not driving to be done? There is always driving to be done. In Canada, one does not simply, not drive. Here, people think 2 hours is a short drive… Like, HUN, 2 minutes is a short drive – 2 hours, and you will need to present a strong business case to gain my attendance.
Anyway, we were heading back to Eagle Plains, which means we were going back through the mountains where it had been snowing a mere day or two prior. Well, when we passed back through that area, it was literally like a different planet. Snow was not a thing, it was well above freezing and there was actual sun.
The only downside to this, was that it was obscenely windy. So windy, that getting a decent selfie was impossible. So windy, that in every single photo of me, you can see my forehead. My forehead is a thing few have seen. Even worse than that, it looks like I have a Rod Stewart mullet going on, which is less than ideal. People were starting to mistake me for dear Rod and began asking for off the cuff renditions of Maggie May (I was only too obliging).
I can’t even describe to you how knotty my hair was after braving the wind at the Arctic Circle sign. It was almost like it had been woven into a mat: that’s how tangled up it was.
Also, how cool is this hazy mountain vibe? It looks like it was born to be on a gallery wall. All the pinks and greys and blue are just everything to me.
We stopped for a bit by the river to have a rest and stretch our legs. I made the MASSIVE error of getting out of the car and going for a wander down the river banks – I experienced major regrets. I don’t usually get bitten by mosquitos, but this was most definitely an exception. If I’d been wearing trousers like a sensible person, then none of this would have happened, but I wasn’t, I was wearing tights. Obvs not just the tights, cos that would be weird, but a tights and dress combo, like a normal person.
I got savaged by these little winged assholes, so, I had some properly mangy looking legs for like a week. Hot or not? Most definitely not. But, on the plus side, I did find a pebble that looked like a heart – so silver linings and all that.
It almost makes the mauled legs worth it… apart from the fact that it really doesn’t.
Had another pretty chilled day today – the place we are staying at keeps huskies, and if you are short on things to do, you can take one out for a walk. So, this is exactly what I did. Let me tell you one thing right now: HUSKIES ARE MAD STRONG. I don’t know why this came as a surprise to me (seeing as they pull sleds for a living) but by the time this walk was over, my right shoulder was dramatically less in the socket than it was when it began.
I even took out one of the smaller ones who was only a year old, but she was still ridiculously strong. Like, it was more like being pulled along by a horse than it was a dog. As a result, I think they should measure things in husky power, rather than horse power.
Even though I’m a fully paid up member of the ‘don’t really like dogs’ club, even I have to admit, these pups were frickin’ cute. Even when they did stop to drink out of puddles which were more mud than water and pause to consume what I think was some sort of moss. Yick.
I even let one eat a piece of dog biscuit out of my flesh and bone hand. But between you and me, that was the 4th bit of biscuit I had provided, after wussing out and dropping the other ones each time the doggo’s face came at me. But don’t tell anyone, please.
After my arm had been stretched sufficiently (if only I could do that with my legs), resulting ruined ligaments and tendons for life, we popped out to find the local car wash. The trouble with the roads around here, is that your car gets properly dusty.
Then, the dust gets everywhere, and when you get out of the car, you end up with mud all over the back of your trousers. Not that that happened EVERY SINGLE time or anything… it’s almost like I never learn.
We’re up nice and early again today, and once I’ve consumed a bucket of coffee and snacked on some more of that granola, we’re on our way to Tuktoyaktuk. Tuktoyaktuk (or ‘Tuk’ if you don’t have all day) is a hamlet which is north of the Arctic Circle, on the shore of the Arctic Ocean. Until recently you couldn’t access Tuk unless by plane or ice road once the ocean had frozen. Just last year, they built a road, so you can drive all the way there from Inuvik. Because the road is pretty new, there is a low weight limit on it, meaning trucks still can’t get down there. But I am not driving a truck, so I can certainly get down there, and paddling in the Arctic Ocean is pretty tempting isn’t it? Especially when I don’t know a single person who has done that.
So, we head off; the journey takes about 3 hours in total, and let me tell you now, that journey is BORING. The scenery the entire way looks exactly the same, apart from a couple of pingos which appear out of the landscape along the way. A pingo is a mound of ice covered in earth, and this area is known as the ‘land of the pingos’. Yes, there are pingos, but I don’t think there are quite enough to legitimately name the area ‘land of the pingos’… ‘area containing some pingos’ would be much more appropriate I feel, but that is another argument for another day.
The first section of the drive is a little… well, a little uncomfortable, let’s just say that. There are some bitch-ass ruts on this road, and I felt like I was either going to smash my head into the roof of the car or hit myself in the face with my boobs – that’s how bumpy this was. This pic doesn’t do it one iota of justice, but I promise you a smooth ride, it was not.
As we were driving along, we came across a lonely little caribou in the road. I’m not sure if this little one was a girl or a boy, but it was pretty damned cute, so I am going to make her a her. Anyway, she was all on her own, which was kinda sad, because I feel like they aren’t really supposed to be in their own, so I am guessing she missed the rest of them when they made the migration or something… Or maybe she got left behind for some reason. Anyway, I managed to get some cute pics of the little lady, and she went for a bit of a jump around and trot along the road in front of us.
Once she’d sauntered off into the distance, we carried on, eventually arriving at the Tuktoyaktuk sign, for the obligatory pics.
As we drive in, we come to the realisation that the sea if still frozen – we were not expecting this! Usually by now it’s completely melted, but there is a definite amount for freezage going on here. We were booked onto a tour with an Inuvialuit lady, who is native to the area, and called Eileen. Once we have located Eileen, after borrowing a helpful Canadian lady’s phone, she comes and grabs us, and we head to her house. Now, I have to admit, I was dubious about the entire thing. When you arrive here, it really does appear if there is nothing here, not just limited amounts of things, but literally nothing, and in all honesty, it looks a bit of a state.
Eileen serves us up some traditional fare, some of which was edible and some of which was distinctly not, but I am proud to say I tried it all. There was caribou stew, which was surprisingly nice and dried whale meat, which was unsurprisingly un-nice; it just tasted so much like dead whale, I cannot even begin to tell you. We had some muktuk, which is the skin and blubber of a whale and this is genuinely rancid. Eileen was telling us that people cover it in brown sauce, and I can 100% understand why, because you do not actually want to taste that stuff when you are consuming it. Dried musk ox was the chewiest thing I have ever attempted to consume in my life, and I am sorry to say, that one had to come back out of my mouth as there was no chance that was going down the hatch without resulting in much retching. The smoked white fish was genuinely really tasty, and the piece de resistance was the bannock. Oh, the bannock [insert lovestruck emoji here]. If this bannock had DMs, I would be sliding right into those because this was the tastiest thing in the whole of Canada, hands down, no argument. No word of a lie, I am 97% sure I ate an entire loaf of it.
Eileen looking fierce in her mum’s dress parka – who knew there was such a thing as a dress parka?!
Her husband, Billy, took us out into his trappers’ tent and showed us some of the different animals he had trapped in his time. Whilst this was interesting, and really cool to see how they made a living, I’ve not got any pics, because dead cute ‘n’ fluffies actually breaks my heart. We headed back out and went to see the first Tuk sign, which was put there in the 70s, and is in relatively good condition, all things considered. Here we are looking like a few heavies outside da club.
After that, she took us to see her smokehouse which was on the beach, right next to the ocean.
I took this opportunity to remove my shoes and socks and have a paddle in the Arctic Ocean. Just to let you know – it’s cold AF. Like, next level cold, so cold that I have never experienced a chill like it. Icy doesn’t even do it justice!
It’s also really hard to get your shoes back on after you’ve gone for your paddle (as exhibited in the below photographic evidence).
Your feet are numb to the core and the pebbles are massive and the whole thing is a bit of a palaver; but it is SO worth it, just to say you did it. Even if I did get a higher than desired level of silt in my suede shoes.
You may have noticed that I missed a day out, if you did – then thank you for religiously reading this – you and the one other person who isn’t my mum should probably get married or something. Anyway, the reason I missed a day out, is because on that day I did literally nothing. I didn’t wake up until about 1pm, and for a couple of reasons; firstly, because the sun is up here until about 1am, and secondly, because all the driving had knackered me.
When I did wake up, I sat in bed and read my book, replied to a bunch of messages and emails, progressed to watching re-runs of Friends, Will & Grace and 2 and a Half Men and then ate a fat bag of granola and drank about a gallon of coffee. All in all, a pretty productive day, wouldn’t you say? I needed a break in all honesty – holidays are tiring when you are on the move constantly, never sleeping in the same place for more than a couple of nights, driving and straining your eyes looking for the non-existent wildlife of British Columbia.
The next day I managed to rise from my coffin at a slightly more reasonable time, but in all honesty, achieved about as little. What I did achieve, however, was the consumption of food. There aren’t many places to eat in Inuvik, in fact, the only options you have are a couple of hotels and one family-run restaurant. If I were you, I wouldn’t bother with the hotels and I’d stick with the family-run, which is called Alestine’s, if you’re interested.
Alestine’s is only open from 5pm-8pm in the evenings, so make sure you get there on time. This place is a cute little shack on Franklin Road, where they do all their cooking out of the back of a bright yellow school bus.
The service is friendly, and you’re served by the wife of the family, who is rushed off her feet constantly because of the popularity of this place. They have about 5 main course options on the menu and one dessert, which are given to change as and when things are in and out of season, or when the chef fancies something different. We entered in and who else did we see sitting in there, but Susan and Michael! We promptly park ourselves down on their table and ask them what’s good on the menu. After taking that in, I order the fish tacos at the recommendation of Susan. I’ve never had fish tacos, but when in Rome and all that…
My fish tacos soon arrived, and boy did I enjoy them. They came with fries (as does everything in Canada) and they were filled with fried white fish, mango salsa and a light coleslaw. YUM!! I wolfed those down in about 8 seconds flat, got my hands covered in sauce and ended up with chutney all round my face – so it was a good meal for sure. It took all my mental strength to try and not wipe my hands on my trousers. I’ll leave you to decide for yourselves whether I managed that or not.
I’m so bad with wiping my hands on my trousers. I KNOW I shouldn’t be doing it, but I literally cannot help myself – the desire is too overwhelming. It’s clearly much more ladylike and polite to wipe ones’ hands upon a napkin of a serviette, but I just feel like my trousers really do the job better, and it’s obviously way better for the environment if I shun all serviettes and refuse to use them. That practically makes me an eco-warrior, doesn’t it? Doesn’t it??????
Overnight it continued snowing, and when I looked out the window in the morning there was still a smattering of snow. I’d been looking forward to being snowed in and having to dig the car out and put on the snow-chains to be honest – but no such luck. All I got was to slip about a foot on the metal grid out the front of the hotel #MichelleODrama. Because it’s all kindsa of mountainous between here and the next stop (Inuvik) we decided to set off with an American couple we’d met in the hotel, called Michael and Susan. Safety in numbers and all that!
Because I’m a born daredevil, I opt to drive first and lead the pack as such. No sooner do we get down the hill from the hotel, does all the snow disappear – muchos dissappointios! However, in the place of the snow, was a sludge you would be hard pressed to call a road. There were some spots which were black-ice-level slippery. Some impressive skids were done in the 4×4. I think I pretty much held my breath for the entire drive – that’s how hard I was concentrating.
We start climbing up towards the Arctic Circle, the snow has made a reappearance and the temperature is dropping big style. By the time we reach the Arctic Circle sign it’s -5 degrees Celsius, the wind-chill factor making it a cool MINUS 20!!!! Chilly does not even cover it. The sign appears out of the snow and we pull over to get some pics. Now, this was a dramatic 10 minutes, even for me. I stop the car and I get out… And only I get out… It turns out that in the cold and snow, the passenger door and the rear doors have frozen shut and we can’t get them open. No amount of tugging is opening those bad boys, so an amount of clambering had to be done to exit the vehicle.
I was desperate for a wee by now, so I headed to the loo. It’s so windy here, I was almost blown past the lav – but I made it in eventually, after a long battle with the door. I get in there, and the loo seat is covered in snow. This is something I have NEVER experienced in all of my loo visits. A good inch of snow stands between my bare arse and the toilet seat… Hovering seems a good idea at this point.
After a tricky few minutes I exit the loo, struggling to do my trousers up in the freezing conditions, only to hear Michael (the American guy) shouting though the wind at me “Bonnie, do your trousers up! You are bringing the Arctic Circle into disrepute!”. Needless to say, this did not help me with doing my trousers up – not only were my hands frozen, they were now jiggling around uncontrollably as a result of intense laughter. And I was trying to run.
It was way too cold to get any decent photos, so we accept that we will have to stop on the way back and get the pics. Seriously weak selfie game was exhibited.
Ooh, I forgot to mention! When I got out of the car here, I got a high 5 from Michael saying I was a great little driver. Never has anything made my life more than this did. He is my new fave person.
I carried on driving and I’m not going to lie, it got beyond terrifying. Obvs I loved how terrifying it was, but it really was scary. It started snowing heavily and visibility was non-existent. All I could see in front of me was white, and the occasional flash of the lights on the RV we’d come up behind. Driving down this road, the wind was whipping up the snow from beside the road, meaning I couldn’t see where the road was or where the other cars were.
There isn’t anywhere you can stop, and even if you did stop, you run the risk of getting hit by another car who just hasn’t seen you in the snow – so I press on. This was white knuckle – I’m not gonna lie. When I eventually got out of the car, my hands were screaming in pain from how hard I’d been gripping the steering wheel. Even though I thought I might vom from the fear, it was EPIC and I would drive through another snowstorm in a heartbeat.
After the treachery of the icy mountains, the rest of the drive was pretty mundane. We crossed over on a ferry, entered into Port McPherson and stopped for something to eat at the tourist centre. Again, there’s hardly anything here, but a break was definitely required, and the local food cooked at the tourist centre was really yummy, making it worth the stop. They had bannock, soup and fish, all done on the BBQ, and they had a tipi set up that you could have a look in. One of the guys explained about putting up the tipi and told us it was his first time – pretty good for a first attempt I think!
As we were coming into Inuvik (which was to be our home for the next couple of days), we paused to stretch our legs. There was a short hike, which I opted for, turning out to be the most non-event hike of my life.
A lot of climbing and a whole load of nothing to see, apart from hella bear poo. But a selfie at the top was required all the same. Selfie game much closer to being ok point.
We arrived in the evening at Arctic Chalet, Inuvik, which was where we were staying. We had clearly interrupted the woman who runs its dinner, and she did not seem best pleased.
Apologising profusely to Judy, we were handed some keys and pointed in the direction of some wooden cabins, where snow-covered loo seats haunted my dreams.
Last night we went for dinner at Klondike Kates restaurant in Whitehorse. We are told it’s the best restaurant in town, but I’m slightly disinclined to agree with that. The food was nice, and the service was friendly, but it was no better than anywhere else we ate. In fact, other places were more fun and enjoyable. I don’t know whether it was entirely down to the atmosphere inside, and in my opinion, some of the other restaurants are better.
After we’d eaten, we went for a walk that someone in the hotel had recommended. To get to the walk, you have to cross over the river on the ferry, oh, and it’s a really easy walk.
The ferry comes and goes as there are people to use it, so if you wait there, they’ll come and get you, which is neat. We crossed over as foot passengers on the ferry, which takes about 10 minutes once you set off. Also, here ferry guys though – we watched this ferry go across so many times and not once did they make a single mistake. I swear they actually must be Gods or something… because it was genuinely impressive!
Once you come off the ferry and walk up the road, to get to the walk you need to take the first left into the campground. Keep walking through the campground until you see a yellow gate (a 10 or 15 minutes’ walk). Head through the yellow gate and down towards the beach – on your left-hand side there will be a break in the trees and you can cross a stream over a little bridge and you’ll be walking next to the river.
Across the river, you can look at the hills and keep your eyes peeled for some wildlife! Obviously we saw a grand total of nothing, in-keeping with the rest of the holiday.
As you walk along, you’ll come to some steamboat wrecks on your left. These were left here at the end of the gold-rush when they were no longer needed (they were beached on the banks of the river and have been left there).
These are pretty cool to look at – there are a few of them there at different stages of dilapidation – the ones further back are in better condition. I went for a bit of an investigate and wandered round the back and climbed up on top of one of them to have a look.
The sunset is beaut here, coupled with the fact that it never really gets dark (it was 20 hours of sunshine when I was there), so you can still walk around happily at 10/11 o’clock at night.
The next morning we went across on the ferry again, but this time by car. We wanted to drive up the Top of the World Highway and take a photo of ourselves next to the sign… so we drive for a while and didn’t find the sign, and we drove for a while more and didn’t find the sign… turns out the sign is no longer there… so we drove a LONG while for literally no reason! But, we did find some snow, so that was a win, kinda.
I took the opportunity to stake my claim on the snow, with a classic year 8 ‘Bonnie was here’. Do not judge me…
And a couple of people threw some snowballs at me… Hmpf… bullies!
We popped to Sourdough Joe’s for dins – FYI no sourdough is served here, despite the name. The food was yummay here and IMO it’s the best restaurant in Dawson City. It’s got a chilled vibe and it’s a bit of fun, making for a very enjoyable dinner.
After that we headed back to the hotel and popped into the bar. They have a guy who plays some tunes at the piano each night from 7 until 9, and I have never seen a man enjoy playing the piano more than this guy does.
Some jaunty tunes, a couple of Yukon Gold’s later and some money in the tip jar, made for a great end to the evening.
Breakfast was calling me, and Riverwest Bistro answered with a breakfast burrito. If you’re looking for places to eat in Dawson City, Riverwest Bistro has plenty of options. It’s a bit of a diner joint and it’s by no means upmarket, but the coffee was fresh, and the food was good, so you’ll have no complaints from me.
We went for a mooch about the town, stopping off in the Northwest Territories Visitor Centre. This place was really good, the lady working there (Dawn) was incredibly informative and hugely knowledgeable – it’s worth popping in there if you need some information about the drive up the Dempster Highway.
Whilst we were in there, we got to talking and she mentioned that there were some cyclists heading up the same way as us who needed a food package dropped off, as it was too heavy for them to carry with them. We offered to take their food package up with us, and feeling like exceedingly good citizens, we headed off with the food package (which turned out to be pretty damn heavy after you have been carrying it for 20 minutes). I can only imagine they were concealing bricks in their food package for some unknown reason.
To fill up our afternoon, we booked ourselves onto a goldmining tour. We had wanted to go on a trip with a native guy in a boat, but he was all booked up – so that was a no go. A shame, to be honest, because we’d been recommended this in the visitors centre and they seemed genuinely excited about it, so we were a bit disappointed, but you can’t have everything. We chose a tour with Goldbottom Mine Tours, departing at 1.30. I have to be honest, I wasn’t bowled over by this tour – I think it was lacking a little something. However, I do think you should go on a gold mining tour whilst you are here. Gold mining is the entire reason this town exists and it’s worth getting to know a bit about it, and the tour was still enjoyable, even if it wasn’t outstanding.
I’ll tell you a little bit about what goes down during the tour. You start off outside the tour office and head up the road to the Goldbottom Mine site (it’s a bit of a bumpy ride). Whilst you’re travelling, the guide talks about the mining history of the area before you stop off at the site and switch your shoes for wellies. The tour guide takes you for a look around the old house there, which is full of cool artefacts and has been done out to look like it would have back in the day.
You head up to a mining site which is in use at the moment and if you are lucky, you’ll get to talk to one of the guys who is mining there. We spoke to a guy named Dale, who told us about the machinery he was using and how much gold he was extracting on a daily basis – this was by far and away the best bit of the tour.
After that we headed back to the Goldbottom Mine site and he showed us how you separate the gold you have panned for from the black sand and other bits and pieces you end up with. This was interesting, and apart from the rude American woman basically rugby tackling me in a bid to get a photo, went off without a hitch. Once we were done with that, the tour guide showed us a huge nugget of gold which one of the people who owned the mine had found.
Here the rude American lady saga continues. We’re standing listening to the guy explaining about the nugget and she’s standing behind me, and I can feel her touching my hair. I pass it off as an accident and continue listening. Then she touches my hair again… Now I know this clearly is no accident, like, she’s kind of tugging on it – does she really think I can’t feel this? Hey, rude American lady – that’s actually attached to my head you know!!!!! CREEP. I end up having to move because I can’t actually address this out loud in front of all these people. The funny thing is, I’m pretty used to people touching my hair; people ALWAYS touch my hair. But, it’s usually accompanied by a verbalisation of the hair touching intentions, such as, ‘isn’t your hair long’, or, ‘isn’t your hair a pretty colour’. One does not simply touch another person’s hair in creepy silence. So, I placed myself out of reach of silent hair stroker and pretended it never happened.
Now it was time for panning for gold! This is where I came slightly unstuck, as I didn’t really know what I was doing and the man just kind of left you to it. I think they could do with working on this section of the tour, as I wasn’t the only one who found this frustrating. Eventually he came back and explained, but I was already miffed by this point, so I enjoyed it less than I wanted to. Also, Goldbottom Mine Tours, if you’re listening, a hot drink and a snack wouldn’t go amiss at some point in the tour. Whilst we are getting sorted with our wellies, it would be easy to sort out some tea and coffee and a biscuit, which I know would be appreciated by your tourists. Oh, and if you could weed out the hair strokers beforehand, that would be GREAT.
Back to the Burnt Toast Café, Whitehorse for some breakfast before the next leg of the journey. The girl serving was rushed off her feet – they were busy yesterday at lunchtime, but this was something else – they definitely need to get someone else in to help! There was a bit of a wait for food and people just kept on coming in (clearly this is the place to be! Either that, or there’s not really anywhere else to go, or a combo of the two). Anyway, the wait was well worth it, because the food was delicious. I had the Breakfast Sandwich, which consisted of a bun, filled with an egg, bacon, tomato and spinach, accompanied by hash browns (fried potatoes). BEYOND SCRUMMY!! And just the right thing to stave off the hunger on a 7-hour trip to Dawson City.
We hit the road, heading in the direction of Dawson City. The drive from Whitehorse to Dawson City is a long old drive (about 530 kilometres) and it takes a while, especially when you aren’t used to the gravel road and you’re on the lookout for wildlife. We saw precisely nothing the whole way, despite someone having seen 10 bears the day before. There are campgrounds along the way, and they are always nicely located. We stopped at one on a lake, which was really pretty – and they are always a good comfort stop as well – there really aren’t that many places to stop for a wee!
Ooh, so there’s this place you HAVE to stop at if you are driving from Whitehorse to Dawson City, it’s called Braeburn Lodge (located on mile 55 o the Klondike Highway).
You have to stop here because they do these GIANT cinnamon buns. When I say GIANT, I am not over exaggerating – they are literally the size of your face and so frickin’ tasty as well. There is no way you can drive past this place without stopping. It’s so out of the way that you get Carnation Evaporated milk with your coffee!
If you go to the loo, you’ll see people have decorated the back of the toilet door with graffiti (obviously I can only speak for the ladies’ loos here – I can’t say for the men’s – and I’m certainly not brave enough to go in there and check for you). But anyway, people are telling you what their names are, when they came and where they are going from and to. The one which stood out to me most, however, was one which read ‘7/10 would poo here again 2017’. That speaks to me, in a serious way.
Stop off at the Five Finger Rapids Recreation Site – there’s a nice trail here which goes down a set of steps first, then travels upwards. You get a great view of the Yukon river here, where there’s a tiny island with some nesting birds atop it. To walk to the top of the trail and back would take less and an hour, I’d say about 45 minutes… I took it upon myself to run it, so it didn’t take me very long (all that pent-up energy again).
We get to Dawson City in the afternoon; it took us about 7 hours to get up here in total. 7 hours on the road and we didn’t see a SINGLE animal, not even one! This was all kinds of disappointing, especially considering we’d heard about a guy who had seen 10 bears the day before – I think we were almost expecting them to be lined up along the highway with a welcome banner. They were not.
Dawson City looks like a cowboy town. I don’t know what I was expecting from the name ‘Dawson City’, but this wasn’t it. I think this place has definitely been named in jest, because a City this is certainly not. All the facades are wooden clad and painted in bright colours, it’s right on the river and it looks super cute.
To be honest though, at that point I was so tired from all the driving that I hardly knew my arse from my elbow. We were staying at the Downtown Hotel in Whitehorse, as hotels in Whitehorse go, it was good. Good Wi-Fi, coffee machine and clean and comfy. Oh, and it has swinging saloon doors on the front, so if that doesn’t persuade you to stay here, nothing will. I elected to skip dinner (a bit of a first for me) and headed straight to bed. Needless to say, I woke up beyond hungry and wondering why on earth I had elected to miss a meal.
Today is the day we go to Whitehorse! This is where the holiday bit of the holiday begins. As nice as it is, when you’re with family, it’s not the same as actually being on holiday. This is where we’re beginning our journey up through the Arctic circle and all the way to Tuk, so I can paddle in the Arctic ocean. Woohoo!!
Having got up at ridiculous o’clock (turns out you can still screech to a halt at red lights when there’s no traffic on the road) and arrived at the airport and made it through security, I was on the hunt for some breakfast. After having a wander round the available options, something caught my eye – something I thought too good to be true… FRUIT SALAD!! Never have I enjoyed a plastic cup full of fruit, in an airport, so much in my entire life. Honestly, I could feel the threat of scurvy leaving my body and I felt as if I could conquer the world. It really is amazing how much of a difference vitamin C makes to your existence.
We jumped on a prop plane and flew a couple of hours to Whitehorse. I was sat next to a guy who was backpacking… Well, I don’t actually know if he was a backpacker, but he certainly smelled like he was backpacking (unwashed clothes have such a distinctive smell). Safely arrived, we picked up our car from Go North Car & RV Rental. There aren’t many options when it comes to car rental in Whitehorse and the reason we used them was because they were the only rental company that would give us a full size spare tyre. Why is this important? Well, most of the roads we would be driving on are going to be ‘all weather roads’, which essentially means gravel and potholes. Services are few and far between, so if you get a flat, you aren’t going to get to the next spot with a donut tyre.
Once we get there, we check in at our hotel: Town and Mountain Hotel, Whitehorse. Again, there aren’t a tonne of options when it comes to places to stay in Whitehorse, but it was clean, so no complaints (and there was decent Wi-Fi)! Oh, quick thing – all hotels here look like they were built in the 70s and haven’t changed since, and that would be because they WERE built in the 70s and HAVEN’T changed since. All the artex and chintzy bedspreads you could wish for.
I’m properly rav by now, so we head out to find some lunch. We come by a place called the Burnt Toast Café and liking the look of it, head in. The walls are black and there’s rock music pumping out of the door, based on that, the food has got to be tasty, right? And I was right [insert drooly emoji here].
To continue staving off scurvy, I opted for a salad – but to be honest, the whole menu sounded DELICIOUS and based on everyone else’s food I saw coming out, it looked it too. I had the Gnarly Barley salad, which came with goats’ cheese and a maple and balsamic dressing; I can’t even begin to explain how yummy it was.
We went for a mooch around the town and had a look the gift shops… I’m still waiting for something to jump out at me to buy, I’ve not seen anything which speaks to me yet. We were looking for something to do for the rest of the afternoon; having read about the Takhini hot springs, we decided we’d give that a try. We got beyond lost trying to get there and ended up having to stop and ask someone. Let’s just say, that signage in Canada seems to be pretty much non-existent, rendering it nigh on impossible to locate anything if you don’t know where it is (much driving around was done).
Eventually we located it (FYI it’s further away than you think it is) and went for a dip. It cost $12 to get into the Tahkini Hot Springs and I think it’s worth it. There are two different hot pools at Takhini; one warm one and one hot one. It’s not glam here, but it’s relaxing and out in the open with a nice view. It would be amazing here in the ice and snow and they even have a ‘best frozen hair’ competition… I may be returning… To make it even more enjoyable there was a cute little chipmunk hanging around at the side of the pool having a snack. They are SO cute, AND it didn’t run away as I splashed over in its direction to stare at it (if only people were like that too).
After a hard day of lounging, it was time for dinner – turns out you can work up quite an appetite doing 100% of nothing. There was only one other place which stood out to eat: Klondike Rib and Salmon.
It’s hella popular and you can’t book – so there might be a bit of a wait, but that’s good – a wait means people love it! I had the special, which was 2 salmon skewers, a half rack of ribs, focaccia, garlic mash and roasted vegetables.
It was SO yummy, and SO much food; more food than a human should consume, I’m sure (of course, I ate it all). It’s fun in there, it’s a laugh and it’s bustling and busy, accompanied with great food – what’s not to like? If you’re looking for places to eat in Whitehorse, this is the one.
Today we headed up to Squamish and Horseshoe Bay; a couple of hours outside of Vancouver. It’s a pretty drive once you get out of Vancouver and get past all the red lights and stop signs available to screech to a halt at. I do so love coming to a smooth stop – I’m really starting to miss it… Anyway, we stopped off at Shannon Falls on our way up. You can walk up the trail here and you come to a pretty waterfall. There are a few steps to go up, but it’s not too tricky. It took us about 30 minutes to walk up, take a few photos and come back down. There are two levels on the Shannon Falls trail – the first gives you a view of the whole waterfall from the front, the second (a bit further up) gives you a more side on view, so you can see the torrent of water coming down.
I had some pent-up energy (on account of having done precisely no exercise since the last week) so I took a little jog up the steps… That certainly relieved me of all that pent-up energy.
We carried on our journey to Squamish. There isn’t a tonne of stuff in Squamish; it’s more about the journey to be honest, but there are some nice gift shops with some native art in them and some places to grab a coffee and a bit to eat. We stopped for lunch at a little place called Green Olive Market and Café, run by a husband and wife. I opted for a Greek salad for the following reasons A) Who doesn’t love a Greek salad? And B) I was starting to worry I was getting scurvy because they don’t seem to eat vegetables in Canada.
On our way to Horseshoe Bay from Squamish, we pulled in at Porteau Cove. As the name suggests, it’s a cove (who’d have guessed it). It’s got loads of drift wood which is well worth a climb over – I managed to get pretty far without having to touch the ground and without falling off. I hear balance is key here.
It’s really pretty here, with the water in the foreground and the mountains in the background and it’s so peaceful as well. It’s also got a campground there (Porteau Cove Provincial Park Campground), and if you were camping it would be a great place to stay I think.
I had a bit of an incident on the beach here at Porteau Cove. We’d walked down to the water to see how cold it was (pretty cold) and whilst we were down there, my mum asked me if I would show her how to do a squat – she’s thinking about working on her fitness and strength, you see. Now, I don’t profess to be a professional squatter or anything, but I definitely do them and I have done them in the gym as well, so that’s as close as you can get to professional in my eyes. So, I give her a quick demo on how to squat.
To show off my best squatting form, I prepare, get my feet in the right position and lower myself into a properly deep squat – I’m talking more than 90 degrees here. I regret this, and I’ll tell you for why. When I lowered myself in to the deepest of all squats, a thing happened. The thing that happened, was that I split my dungarees… My FAVOURITE dungarees [insert anguished emoji here]. As a cool breeze caressed my right buttock, I can only describe myself as entirely forlorn. I’m trying to look over my shoulder to see said split. I can’t see it, but I know it’s there – I heard it go and I can feel a certain chill overcoming my arse. Fortunately, I’m wearing a jacket which covers the split, which is a small mercy. Dejected, I head back to the car and I even sit in the front (a major risk to life), which I think shows the true extent of my pain. R.I.P dungarees – R.I.P… Rip… You get it? See, I’m funny even when I’m broken hearted.
We arrive at Horseshoe Bay, which again, is really pretty. We take a look round a souvenir shop and have a bit of a wander, trying to work up an appetite for dinner. We sit on the pier for a bit and watch some Amish people larking around in a group. They are all young – I’d say 25 and under. Whilst I am questioning the combination of ankle length, pink, floral dress and walking boots, one of the men wanders by, carrying a rather fetching replica Gucci handbag. I’m assuming it was his partners handbag, but I think it would be rather more fun if it was his, don’t you?
We went to Trolls for dinner. People seem to rave about it, so we thought we would give it a go. They are famous for their battered salmon, so I was after giving that a try, but they were fresh out of it, so that was a no go. I opted for cod, as the only other fish option was halibut and I wasn’t feeling that.
I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t amazing. It wasn’t bad by any means, it was tasty for sure, but I’m not sure it’s deserving of the reputation it has. I’m not sure what the moral of this story is, but I’d imagine it’s something along the lines of not believing everything you hear.
Nothing aggravates me more than people saying chorizo with the Spanish lisp. Each time I hear it, rage boils up inside me. It boils up inside me so much, so much, that I actually get red in the face when I hear it said. So red, that I resemble chorizo. But chorizo without the lisp, on account of me hating the false Spanish lisp. Do not mock my chorizo sausage self with your pretend lisp. Do not.
I am as fired up about this as the spicy chorizo sausage itself. I am the flaming spice of anger. Just, why do it? We all know you are not Spanish – we all know, it is clear to us. Never has a thing been clearer, really, has it? You are not Spanish, and you do not have a lisp, therefore, I conclude you are not entitled to say chorizo in such a manner.
You just sound poncey (there, I said it). You sound like you are trying to be something you are not, which is exactly what you are trying to do – you are trying to be a Spaniard. Just say it like every other British person has said it since the dawn of time. Say it how it is, say it like you have no culture and have never heard it said another way. Just say it how it looks, please, with a “z”, not an “th”. I beg of you.
Never has someone sounded more of a loon, than when they try to pronounce something in a language they do not speak. You have never sounded more of a nob than when you do this. But, sure, if you want to sound like a complete and utter nob, then carry on. Carry on lisping over your chorizo. Like the second people mention the use of a haricot bean, they all of a sudden become a Parisian and it becomes an “aricot” bean. Christ.
Why do you have to put on the accent? It’s like the entire sentence starts off in your rough East London accent, and then all of a sudden you become some sort of Spanish prince mid-sentence, only return to your quite blatantly not Spanish prince accent directly after. Who are you kidding? Who do you genuinely think you are kidding? Precisely no one, that’s who.
No one believes you know your stuff. No one is suddenly under the impression that you are world class chef. No one is thinking you are some kind of well-travelled, cosmopolitan individual. They all know the only reason you are even talking about chorizo is because you’ve seen it on Masterchef. It’s not like you wandered past the artisan sausage stall and saw it hanging on a hook, was it? All that happened, was that you saw it was in the reduced section in Tesco and thought “ooh, I’ll give that a go, I saw it on the telly last week, John Torode mentioned it”.
I reckon it was Jamie Oliver who started it. He seems like the kinda guy to start this kinda thing. He’s the sort to say chorizo with a “th”. Now I’m writing this, I do seem to recall that Jamie Oliver had a lisp. I say “had”, because now I’m thinking about it, the lisp does actually seem to have disappeared somewhat. I won’t dwell on this, however, as I feel I am treading on thin ice with the Jamie Oliver lovers of the world and one doesn’t wish to be accused of being horrid about him.
Anyway, you chorizo people are not who you report to be. You are a lie. You are lying to us, and you are lying to yourself. You are no more Spanish than I am, and to be quite frank you sound like a monstrous arse when you say is. ChoriZo!!
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.
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.
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.
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).
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).
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????????????????
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.
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.
Why are Malteser reindeer so good? Why? They are other worldly in comparison to other festive chocolate treats. I am convinced they are a gift from the heavens. Nothing this tasty can have been created by one of us mere mortals. These came from a higher being; of that I’ve no doubt. I am surprised they haven’t been depicted in paintings of the birth of Jesus, and I’m equally surprised that they weren’t given at least one mention in the Bible. I’m fairly sure Mary whipped one of these bad boys out of her knapsack whilst she and Joseph were travelling on the donkey.
I’ve done a serious amount of thinking about why they are so damned delicious, and I have come up with a few reasons. These are the kinds of things I think about when I am sitting on the loo, treating myself to a change of scenery for five minutes. I feel my best work is done seated in the cubicle on the far right-hand side of the ground floor ladies’ bathroom at work. Many an epiphany has been had with my back resting against the cistern and my head resting against the loo roll dispenser. Possibly not the most hygienic of places to do great work, but I doubt Einstein would judge my choice. Whatever works for you, right?
I digress; I was supposed to be explaining why Malteser reindeer are the tastiest deer in all the land, and now I shall. Hold onto your hats people, because this is going to be a bumpy ride.
Chocolate to filling ratio
In comparison to your average run of the mill Malteser, the reindeer has a distinctly thicker chocolate coating and this makes a huge difference. The thicker chocolate layer protecting the delectable creamy Malteser filling is a deal breaker and a maker. It takes this treat from average to mind blowing in the first bite. Just thinking about taking a bite of one of these bad boys is genuinely causing me issues in the world of excess saliva production.
I am 100% sure that when a snack if shaped as something cute, like a little reindeer, it tastes 100,000,000 times better. No lie. There is something inherently enjoyable about decapitating a reindeer in one bite. Also, because it isn’t a uniform shape, there isn’t a strict uniformity in biscuit to chocolate ratio. Every mouthful is different, yet equally enjoyable.
They are only available once a year. Yes, they get reinvented at Easter to become bunnies, but the scrummy reindeer is only available for a couple of months of the year. The second Halloween is over and the Christmas treat aisle is at full capacity in Tesco, it’s game on. The most wonderful time of the year has begun. You can never over indulge to the point where you will never want another one. They are only around for 8 weeks. That is not enough time to eat so many that you will never want to look one square in the eye again. There is an extended “off season”, where you have 10 months to recover. To forget about their chocolatey goodness, then start to yearn for a taste of sweet reindeer as the weather starts to turn colder and the nights draw in. The once-a-year deer know the game, and they play it oh so well.
There is no greater feeling than tearing open the wrapper on the first Malteser reindeer of the season. The scrumptious waft of deliciousness emanates from inside the wrapper. It’s an “eyes closed” moment as you take a bite of your first reindeer of the festive season. This moment is almost akin to love making. The passion I feel for these things is near to unrivalled. Are these better than sex? Well, no, let’s not be entirely ridiculous. These are not better than sex. They come close, I’m not going to lie, but they haven’t quite made it to that level yet. Can the two be combined? Is that a thing that can happen? (if you’re reading this, I think we need to talk, because I’m not sure I’m going to stop thinking about this as an option any time soon). Anyway, they aren’t better, unless you are having terrible sex, in which case they might actually be better than the sex you are having. If that is the case, have more reindeer and that will probably make you feel better about the whole sex thing. And at the very least, you will eat so many that you will feel entirely sick and your “not tonight dear” won’t be a falsity this time.
One of the guys at work is having a baby. Well, not him obviously, but his wife is. I say obviously, but there was that time when that man had a baby, so you can never be overly sure with these things. Anyway, I digress. I feel like the perfect gift in this situation is always a hamper, it can never not be a hamper. We knew the little one was going to be a girl, so I set about getting a collection going at work to get a few bits to buy them a present. I sent a card around with a ‘collection’ envelope, entitled “Ross is having a baby!”. Someone very helpfully changed my post-it note so it read “Ross’s wife is having a baby!”. Thanks pal, I’m not sure that was necessary, but I’m really glad you did that in your tiny scrawly penmanship. I’m pretty sure everyone knew what was meant, but TY bro. Not.
But whatever, let’s not put a damper on my hamper, because I LOVE choosing presents for people. It’s genuinely one of my fave things to do, and I think I am pretty good at it (most of the time, anyway). I put a fair amount of thought into these things and always try to go for something which they will like and use, rather than it just being your average gift.
So, I always prefer getting lots of little bits and pieces when it comes to a gift, so a hamper is ideal. You can fill it full of cute little bits and bobs, and it doesn’t have to cost the earth if you are on a budget. I had a browse through the likes of Tesco, Boots and Marks and Spencer and here is a list of what I ended up getting:
Cotton wool pleat
Johnsons baby powder
Johnsons baby bath
Ultra-soft baby wipes
3 pairs of socks
Polar bear towel
Dress, babygro and tights set
The trick here is to get items of all different sizes and shapes so you can display them nicely in your basket. You need some small items to fill up gaps, some taller items to give you a bit of height and some soft items that you can use to pad out the bottom and drape here and there.
I started by draping the cute little towel over one corner of the basket, and using the rest of the towel to pad out the bottom of the basket so you would be able to see everything once it was all in there. I then spent ages fiddling about trying to display the dress set nicely. I started off by taking the hanger out and draping the outfit over the side, but it looked a bit weird. It looked a bit sad and droopy and I wasn’t a fan of that; it looked like it had given up the ghost. Kind of like when you see someone come out of a bar really drunk and they just “rest for a moment” over someone’s garden wall until 7 in the morning. So, I actually ended up putting the hanger back in and using it to support the dress so it stood up nicely.
After wrestling with the dress for a while, I got it in place and I set about adding the rest of the items in. It was pretty plain sailing from there. I put the cotton wool pleats over the other side to give a bit of height, and then popped in the wipes, the baby powder and the bath stuff. I propped up the sterilising tablets. I propped up the sterilising tablets again. Then I propped them up again, until I lost my patience and quickly shoved in the Sudocrem at the front to support everything.
All I was left with was the bunny, the bibs and the tiny little sockies. I slid the bibs in at the back and arranged the little socks at the front. Lastly was the pink bunny toy. This was harder to position than I had imagined, mainly on account of it being literally the softest toy in the entire world, and wherever I placed it, it just slithered out. I eventually managed to jam its leg behind the bath stuff to anchor it in. I felt a bit sorry for the bunny, but it was being difficult and I feel it deserved what it got in the end.
When we gave it to him, he was so pleased with it. He had such a big smile on his face and I was so happy for that. This is why I like gifts. When you give someone something they weren’t expecting, or something really thoughtful, and they have that look of pure joy on their faces; that’s what gifts are all about. I guess what I am trying to say, is that things don’t have to cost the earth, and it really is the thought that counts.
I had quite the weekend of socialising this weekend. On Friday night Claire came round and we made pasta and drank prosecco. Finally, I’ve found two things I am actually good at – drinking prosecco and eating pasta… Perhaps I should have been Italian.
The requirement for a second bottle was unexpected, and we had to emergency chill it in the freezer. There was no space in the freezer, so the peas had to take one for the team and make their new home on the floor, rather than in the bottom drawer of the freezer, but I’m sure they were fine with that, it was so we could have prosecco after all.
Two bottles of prosecco in and an artfully made pesto pasta down, we went out for a couple of cocktails. As we got there, Claire realised she didn’t have her ID and she’d left it at home. We knew we wouldn’t get in without her ID, but it was worth a shot anyway right? You never know! We tried, and as expected we failed. Even offering photos of Claire’s 21st birthday from her camera roll did nothing to sway the bouncer, so off we toddled to give Claire’s boyfriend a call and rectify the ID issue.
We managed to source a drink in another bar where the ID process is distinctly more lax, so we were satisfied for the time being. We used this time to have a goss and a bitch sesh; because what else do girls do over a cocktail? Claire’s ID turned up (thanks Pete) and we were on our way to the bar. We had a couple of drinkies, but to be honest, all we wanted to do was goss, and it was a bit loud in there – so we made our way to a pub where we could bitch to our hearts were content, without having to shout over a Calvin Harris remix.
After what I can only describe as the most disgusting glass of wine I have ever had the misfortune to sling down the hatch (which I didn’t hesitate to mention to the bouncer who was hanging around), we needed another cocktail.
I couldn’t even tell you what we ordered, but it was probably the least tasty cocktail I have ever experienced in my life. We got talking to a table of randoms and managed to palm off our drinks on them, in return for something that was distinctly more to our taste.
All of a sudden it was 2am and we were in McDonalds procuring ourselves a chicken legend meal each. The Uber turned up and it wasn’t long before I was getting more chicken legend meal on the seat than I was in my mouth. Apparently, I refused to drink any of my diet coke and Claire was left with more diet coke than anyone can drink and a tip was required to satiate the aggressive Russian Uber driver and stop him from giving her a 1 star rating.
The next morning, I was suffering, I’m not going to lie. I woke up and tried to get out of bed and I simply couldn’t. There was no way I could get up without vomming, so I had to retreat back under the covers and lay there and question what I was doing with my life until I could slide out of bed and get myself a drink of water. I couldn’t make it all the way to the sink in one go, so I had to have a rest on the loo for a bit and press my cheek against the cool tiles until I recovered enough to make it to the sink and turn the tap on.
It took the whole day to recover, multiple naps and some pop tarts to get me back up and running again. It was Tara’s 21st birthday so there was no way I could cancel, I simply had to go out. I got all dolled up; pink was the theme this evening, so I had a pink skirt on and I went all pink on the eyeshadow front. PINK PINK PINK. I started off lightly and had a diet coke, I was feeling like I needed to ease myself in.
Tara’s mum was practically forcing alcohol down my neck. All of a sudden there was a glass of prosecco in front of me and the thought of drinking it was turning my stomach. But, because I am a trooper, I forced it down the hatch.
The night went on and we headed into Kingston, to da club. Tara got a tonne of free drinks cos she had that 21st badge on, and I got precisely no free drinks. But, there was a point where she couldn’t drink all the free drinks, so I did end up with a free drink, but it wasn’t intended for me, but I’m not sure that’s the point.
We had a good dance, and I mean a GOOD DANCE. So much so, that by the time we got home we were pretty much sober. We had a cheeky chicken wrap before we started the Uber journey, because basically the entire reason we go on a night out is for the food at the end. We had Imran the Uber driver, and I have to say; genuinely the best Uber driver I have ever experienced in my life. Us and Imran, we put the world to rights, and we even gave him a “compliment” as we exited the vehicle, and I have never given an Uber drive a compliment in my life. You should take that as a compliment in itself Imran.
When we woke up I made Tara a birthday bacon sandwich and put some candles in it.
Because when you don’t have a cake, birthday bacon is probably the next best thing. In fact, I am now starting to wonder why we even bother with birthday cake, and why we don’t just have birthday bacon sandwiches instead.
I think that would be a better way to celebrate. I’m going to make it a thing starting from now. I can see no situation where this wouldn’t be a goer… Unless you were a vegetarian. Or worse, vegan.
There’s a tonne of other things that have made me happy over the last month, but these are just a few of them, and the ones I had photos of to show you. It’s the little things in life that make the biggest difference I think. These are some of the little things. These little things have created some of the biggest smiles this month. I’m not 100% sure why I have decided to post about this, but it has been a really nice post to write and I think I will make it a monthly thing.
I guess it’s because I have been feeling really good this month; way better than I have been feeling at other points during this year, and I thought that was a worthy thing to shout about. Maybe this will inspire some of you others to write about things that have made you happy this month. If it does, then you people pay way too much attention to me 😛
My new tiara:
So, a little story behind the tiara. The long and the short of it is, I met this guy on Tinder and we arranged to go on a date. We went to an Italian and I was super nervous (obvs, because I get super nervous about these things), oh, and coupled with the fact that he’s possibly the most beautiful person in the world. It is safe to say my nerves were no longer nerves, and they had escalated into major nerves. I’m not sure if any of the words I was saying were making any sense, but oh wells.
Anyway, he bought me a frickin’ tiara. A frickin’ tiara. A TIARA. Uhm, yes please. Firstly, no one has ever bought me anything on a date ever. Secondly, no one has ever bought me a tiara ever. And thirdly, no one has ever arranged for a tiara to be brought out to me by a waiter on a plate. I want to wear it forever but I don’t want to ruin it. I legit want to wear it to sleep because it is that glorious.
IT’S A TIARRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!
I deleted Tinder:
Tinder is a dick; nuff said. I am so glad to have that little flamey icon gone from my “entertainment” folder. The fact that it was even in that folder shows how little faith I had. I feel like I am slating Tinder, when I actually think it is a kind of good idea. Places like POF where anyone under the sun could message you, I was certainly no fan of. At least with Tinder, you know you are attracted to them and they are attracted to you and it means you don’t have to have those awkward conversations where you basically have to tell people you don’t like their face, but by saying things like “you aren’t my type”. Non-fan of dat. So, byeeeeeeee Tinder and all my matches, I hope life treats you all well. Unless you were a dick, and in that case I hope your lives are merely “fine”.
I got some clothes made smaller:
This was a really nice feeling. I had a few pairs of trousers and a jumpsuit that were way too big for me around the waist, so I took them to the tailors and had them made smaller. They weren’t super expensive or anything like that, but one of my pairs of trousers were pink and I couldn’t give those up, and I had never had a chance to wear my jumpsuit and I think it is pretty fierce, so I want to give it an outing. It was the best feeling to get these taken in, and it proves that going to the gym and eating vegetables rather than pizza, has paid off. Yay!
It is autumn, and that means it is boot season. So, I have been busting out the boots at every available opportunity. I seem to be a fan of an ankle boot, and I have accumulated more pairs than I thought I had. Oh, and stacked heels. I am such a fan of a stacked heel, there are no better heels in the world. Stacked, stacked, stacked.
This little note made me happy. Things like this make my day, if not my week. One of the girls at work always gives me the crusts from her pizza. This might not seem like something to gush over, but I think it is the best thing in the world. Getting someone’s leftover crusts might not seem like a huge thing, but having someone that thinks about you enough to save their food and leave you a little note; they are the best people in the world.
Okay, so I made this and it is pretty damn tasty. It is the perfect way to use up some of your Halloween pumpkin, because let’s be honest, no one ever knows what to do with that. It’s nice and decadent and it’s a bit different from your usual pie fillings. I really like this, and it makes a killer photo with all your pumpkins scattered around.
It doesn’t take too long to make, maybe an hour and a half all in. It would have taken me an hour and a half if I hadn’t had a major disaster in the middle of it. I had made my pastry case, and I was just getting it out of the oven having blind baked it to perfection, when my entire brain shut down and I dropped the tin on the floor.
Had it been anyone else, I am sure the tin would have sailed straight down and landed on its base with no harm done. But, obviously, that didn’t happen. The tin came crashing down on its side, making a proper racket and causing the cat to hurtle out the cat flap so fast, he nearly took it off its hinges. The perfectly baked pastry case flung out to the left-hand side and plopped unceremoniously into the cats’ water bowl. WTF. There was no saving the pastry case, so I just let it drown until I could bear to begin the clean-up operation.
This recipe is a bit of a mash up of recipes from here, there and everywhere. Plus as bit of my own, because I can never follow a recipe to the tee and I always add or change something. So, enjoy making your pie. Oh, and don’t drop your pastry.
For the pastry:
225g plain flour
150g cold butter
25g icing sugar
1 large egg
2 tbsp water
For the filling:
1 (400g ish) tin condensed milk
175g soft dark brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ginger
½ tsp nutmeg
Pinch of salt
You will need:
23cm deep tart tin
To make the pastry, cut the butter into cubes and add it to a large bowl with the flour and sugar. Using your fingers, rub the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg and combine until it forms a smooth ball. If the mixture is still too crumbly, add a tablespoon of water to bring it together. Wrap your pastry in cling film and leave it in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Whilst the pastry is in the fridge, you can make your pumpkin puree that you need for the filling. Cut 500g of pumpkin into small chunks and place in a medium pot. Cover with water and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until the pumpkin is tender.
Drain the water from the pumpkin and using a blender or a stick blender, puree the pumpkin until the lumps have gone. Set this aside to cool down.
Get your pastry out of the fridge and roll it out on a floured surface until it is about the thickness of a £1 coin. Place your pastry in the tin and press the pastry into the tin, making sure you press it into the edges. Put the pastry back in the fridge for 15 minutes to chill.
Heat your oven to 180c. Once your pastry has chilled, line the pastry case with foil and pour in your baking beans. Blind bake your pastry case for 15 to 20 minutes, until the case is golden.
Whilst you are blind baking your pastry, you can make your filling. In a large bowl, combine the pumpkin, condensed milk, sugar, eggs, spices and salt. Whisk together until the mixture is smooth.
Remove your baking beans and foil from the pastry case, and pour in your pumpkin mixture. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the filling is stable and a knife inserted comes out clean.
Then enjoy! I left mine to cool most of the way and then cut myself a big old slice and served it with a dollop of crème fraiche. Crème fraiche is a bit more acidic so it goes nicely with the sweetness of the pumpkin and it’s not as luxurious as cream, which I am not a major fan of. Oh also, it was lactose free crème fraiche, because my body is not a major fan of the whole lactose thing.
A quarter-life crisis. Who even knew that was a thing?! Well, it turns out it is, and I am having one. I want to change my job, I want to stop doing stuff, I want to start doing different stuff. I’m not sure what is happening. I thought this was only supposed to happen when you were about 50 and you went out and bought a convertible car and got your nipples pierced. I’m not going to buy a convertible, because quite frankly I can’t afford one, and I’m not going to get my nipples pierced (although I did consider doing so when I was 16).
But this is weird right? Has anyone else experienced the quarter-life crisis? Is it just me? Or is this actually a really normal thing for a 23-year-old to experience? If it is, then I am wondering why I haven’t heard about it before. But here I am, sitting in front of Strictly Come Dancing with my cat, alone on a Saturday night, watching Aston Merrygold do a spooky Halloween themed paso doble, criticising his leg extensions, accompanied by a cup of tea, pretty much questioning my entire life. Maybe this is a mid-life thing? I shouldn’t be so concerned as to whether Anton Du Beke has had a face-lift, should I? No other people my age are worried about things like that, are they?
But anyway, back to my quarter-life crisis. I want to quit my job, mainly because I hate it, but also because I feel like it’s just not creative enough for me. But I also don’t want to quit, because I have no idea what other jobs to look at, let alone actually apply for. Is there anything else I can do? What skills do I have? Will anyone want to employ me? What can I actually do? I genuinely have no idea. Will I be able to make any friends at my fictitious new job? Or will I end up having lunch in my car because no one likes me? Because that is a definite possibility.
I’m in on a Saturday night, looking like a complete crazy cat lady. Sitting in my jim jams on the sofa, blanket tucked around me, with panda eyes so dark, that I’m not even sure I look human anymore, and I may have actually started morphing into a panda. I’m 23 and I am in on a Saturday night. This shouldn’t be happening. Why aren’t I one of those popular people who have a tonne of superficial friends they can call in times like these?
I’d like to learn a new skill. I really want to learn how to sew, like proper sewing with a sewing machine so I can make my own clothes and alter stuff. But when is there time to learn how to sew? I feel like I don’t even have enough time to go to sleep, let alone learn a new skill. There are so many things I want to do and learn and see, but when is there time to do all these things? I can’t do all this, have a social life, go to work, go to the gym, eat and sleep, can I? There is simply not enough time in the day.
Urgh. My mind went spinning out of control so I thought I would go for a nap. I laid there for a bit hoping I would fall asleep. Obviously, I didn’t. What actually happened was I laid there for an hour staring at the ceiling, singing my own version of Calvin Harris’s “Feels”, where I replaced the word “feels” with “ceilings”. I can promise you now, that “don’t be afraid to catch ceilings”, will be top of the charts in the not too distant future.
Anyway, so I haven’t really solved my quarter-life crisis. All I’ve done is watch Strictly, stare at the ceiling and change one word in a song to make it my own. So… yeah, that was my evening. Productive eh?
I was HANGING at work the other day, not going to lie. I’d been out with some of the work lot the night before and drunk A LOT. Like, really a lot. I didn’t get into work until 9 that morning, and considering I am supposed to start at 7.30, turns out I was a little late. But no matter, we will press on with the day. I was fine, sitting at my desk quite happily, until we got to about 11. This is when everything started to go a bit downhill. I started getting a bit of a shake on and my eyes weren’t focusing on the emails I was pretending I was reading. I needed a break, a few minutes away from my desk – that will sort me right out. Did it fuck.
I went to the kitchen area to get some water from the water cooler, and low and behold there was precisely no water left. I could see there was no water left, but I had to press the button down just in case there happened to be a secret store of water that would mean I didn’t have to change the bottle. But I had no such luck. Not even a drip was relinquished by the water cooler. Urgh.
You aren’t supposed to change the bottle on the water cooler yourself, because it’s heavy and whatever, and you are supposed to call one of the maintenance guys to come and do that. But nobody got time for dat. When you are experiencing the unquenchable thirst, the pain of having to wait for a heavily tattooed Polish man to come and assist you is a no go. Water simply must be had.
So, I did it myself. Normally I’m fine and I switch it over no problem, but today was a different story. I took the empty bottle off the top with minimal trouble, and after a bit of wrestling, I managed to peel the sticker off the bottom of the new water bottle. Here’s where it started going a bit awry. I grabbed hold of the handle of the water bottle and gave it a bit of a lift (testing the water if you will). It was no heavier than usual, so I engaged in the lift and hefted the new bottle off the rack and in the direction of the cooler. It was at this point, that I lost it. All of a sudden, my arms failed me and I seemed incapable of lifting the bottle any higher than my waist. Crap. I really had to engage the core to heft that water bottle into the right position. Clearly, I need to work on my clean and jerk, because this was not happening, and I had visions of me dropping the bottle with an almighty bang and me having to chase a rolling bottle down the corridor.
Anyway, somehow I managed to get the bottle into the cooler, and I stood waiting for the water to filter through the system. This can take a bit of time, so I assumed a leaning stance against the counter top, much like a cowboy leans against the bar in a Western, but probably much less cooly. Elaine the cleaner sauntered around the corner and I geared up for our daily chat which consists of one of the following three options.
Option number 1: Elaine proclaiming “Aint it hot in here?!”, when it really isn’t, but obviously I just agree because I am polite and British. I strongly suspect this has something to do with her being “that age” rather than it actually being warm in the office, but we won’t mention that.
Option number 2: Elaine asking if “I’ve much planned for the weekend”. This one usually first rears its ugly head on a Tuesday, when I obviously have nothing planned, and surfaces on a pretty much daily basis until I come up with an answer which satisfies her. I’m not sure I ever satisfy Elaine with my weekend plans, as they usually consist of “nothing much really”.
Option 3: she says something which I have no idea how to respond to. Well, I do know how I would like to respond to it, but I often can’t say what I want to out loud.
Option three is what we came up against on this day. I was standing near the water cooler, having just replenished it with a fresh bottle. Elaine saw me do this, as she reminded me I shouldn’t do this and I should get one of the maintenance blokes to do it. I glossed over this comment, as Elaine and I have discussed this many a time before, and she is well aware of my feelings with regard to waiting for people to do things for me.
As I stood there with my bottle in hand, waiting for the water to filter through so I could fill my bottle with the cool refreshing liquid I had just hailed up there, Elaine did a thing. She did a thing that would change my feelings towards this woman forever. She took a plastic cup from the dispenser. This may seem like a small thing, but the act of removing that plastic cup from the dispenser carries big meaning. But, not only did she take one plastic cups… She took two.
I stood there with a look of fire in my eyes. I knew where this was going. I could tell what was about to happen without her even opening her mouth to utter those words. I was steeling myself for the question; I was staying as calm as possible so as not to flip my lid. Just as I had thought the moment was going to pass, the words came. The dreaded words, “do you mind if I go first?”. The torrent of abusive phrases that swam through my head at that point don’t even bear thinking about. Somehow, I managed to keep my mouth shut, how I did that I will never know.
Through gritted teeth and the most clenched jaw you have ever seen in your life, I uttered the words “sure, not a problem!”. Not a problem? Of course it’s a bloody problem Elaine. Who on Gods earth do you think you are woman? You have quite literally stood there and watched me struggle to begin the process of quenching my thirst. You have unhelpfully reminded me that I shouldn’t be taking action to quench my thirst – which is precisely no help to a thirsty person, and now, NOW, you are going to actually ask me if you can have first go at the water?
You know what Elaine? You know what? Have it. Have all the water. Just go straight ahead. Don’t mind me or anything, you just take what you came for and leave. Don’t worry about the fact that I have gone to a serious amount of effort to get us to this point. Don’t you even bat an eyelid. There are words for people like you in this life. I didn’t want to say it Elaine, and I didn’t want it to come to this. I am ashamed to say that as she pottered back to wherever she came from (hell most likely), that under my breath I uttered the words “liquid larcener” at her back.
Started the day off with a major hunger on. The fry up called, and I answered. I treated the three of us and cooked breakfast (don’t say I don’t treat you guys).
After that the sink broke a little bit. The pipe underneath the sink appeared to be leaking, and there was rather more water outside of the sink pipes than there should have been. I informed Les of the sink/water situation and he attended the scene. Much swearing ensued, and after calling the sink a “bastard” approximately a thousand times, the issue appeared to be fixed.
It wasn’t. The water was spewing out. The sink was even more of a bastard than it ever was before. Many sodden tea towels later, a rather red in the face Les managed to staunch the flow and fixed the bastard sink. Bastard.
I wanted to go to Bushy Park today, but I felt like I needed to give Les a hand with some gardening before I went out. Seeing as the bastard sink had put him a couple of hours behind, I thought I would oblige and assist him. I donned the gawjus Tesco tracksuit bottoms and the sexy Eminem t-shirt and headed into the wilderness.
It was my job to pull up the carrots and beetroot we were growing. I always think it is an excellent idea to grow things, until you have to look after them and water the plants and weed the earth. My god I HATE weeding. But somehow, some stuff had grown, and there were some healthy-looking beetroot specimens and some things which I was told were carrots.
I was quite pleased with the beetroot, but I am not going to lie – the carrots are shit. Some of them are so short and fat and don’t really resemble carrots. One of them is miniature and would probably win an award for the “longest time growing for nothing” award. One of them looks more like a turnip, and one of them is actually yellow. WTF.
I thought I had done my time, but I hadn’t. There was weeding to be done. Oh hell (remember I hate weeding). I did my best, but I am not going to lie, there were a lot of weeds interspersed with actual plants which needed to stay in the ground, so it was pretty hard going. I weeded this bit for approximately 5 hours and hardly made any progress. When I say 5 hours, it was more like 15 minutes, but time takes on a whole new level of slow when you are crouched in the mud pulling up what you are hoping is grass and not a flower.
I finally managed to escape to Bushy Park with Gail. The whole reason I wanted to go was because it was rutting season and all the boy deer would be out doing their thing and showing off to the ladies. There is definitely a joke in there somewhere about them being horny, if only they didn’t have antlers.
We saw some of the lads out and about in the park, making that weird mooing sound, I’m not sure whether the girls find it attractive or not. I don’t know if I would be overly keen on a giant antlered man mooing at me whilst I was trying to eat my grass, but who knows – the ladies like what they like.
A couple of the boys had a bit of a to do and it call kicked off when one of them gave chase and started pelting after the other one. Nothing much happened in the end, and it was a bit disappointing. I feel like it was all for show, and the ladies barely even looked up as it was going on.
We went for a wander through the park and did our best to avoid getting run over by kids on bikes. There was one hairy moment where there was a kid coming at me from behind on a tiny bike, he was bending and weaving like this was the slalom section of the race and I had to take a dive into the long grass to avoid being taken out.
As he whizzed off with his mum following closely behind, another kid tried to take her out, but on a much bigger bike. My internal organs all simultaneously cringed as her foot got caught on the wheel of the bike. All I could imagine was her foot getting caught in the spokes and her going flat on her face, and me not being able to do a single thing to help because I was laughing too much. Somehow her foot managed to untangle itself and we were safe.
After Gail and I had taken a romantic turn around the grounds, we headed out and stopped for a coffee. In this coffee shop, I actually had a smoothie called a “Cool Pina”, which had lime, pineapple, cucumber and almond milk in it (unfortunately no alcohol). It was really tasty and I imagine it would be described as “refreshing” if they were to make an advert for it with many descriptors. I felt refreshed as I sipped this refreshingly fresh fruit smoothie.
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?
I was back at work today. My God, I did not want to go. I even had a tiny cry last night because I didn’t want to go to work – just like a kid not wanting to go back to school after the summer holidays. How sad is that? No need to answer, I know it is sad, and I know it is crazy, you really don’t need to tell me.
I got to work and I took the greatest pleasure in deleting all of the emails I got whilst I was away. I couldn’t remember how to do anything at all, and it took me about 10 minutes to figure out where I needed to save this document, after not having to save it for a month. I wasted a lot of the day on staring blankly at me screen, not being able to recall what I was supposed to do with something, after I had got it.
I also wasted a good amount of time perusing the Macmillan coffee morning charity bake sale. I had completely forgotten about this, so I didn’t have any change, so I had to hit up my contacts and I managed to source myself £1 to get a gluten and dairy free brownie, which was actually surprisingly nice.
Finally, after many hours of waiting, it was time to go home. Well, not quite, it was actually time to go swimming. Seeing as I haven’t done any exercise whatsoever in a month, this was a fairly daunting prospect. I told my friends that if I didn’t make it in tomorrow because I had drowned, that it had been nice knowing them.
I got to the pool, got changed, and quickly realised that I had forgotten to bring a hair band. After scouring the surfaces, the hairdryer area and the showers, I could not locate a hairband. I even went out to reception to see if there was a spare one, but to no avail. Nuts. Trying to swim without my hair tied back isn’t really an option. I have a lot of hair, and if I leave it down, it’s like trying to swim with a bucket of cement on the back of my head. Which is hard, as you can imagine.
I couldn’t see an option. There didn’t appear to be a way around this. Until I looked down at my swimsuit. Now, this isn’t the usual swimsuit I wear, normally I wear a sporty one that flattens everything out and makes you more streamlined, whilst simultaneously squeezing all your back fat out of the back of your costume in horrifying lumps. But today, I had a more fashionable swimsuit on, because I couldn’t find the ghastly sporty, back fat enhancing number.
This swimsuit had a lace up bit at the front. It is like a v neck one, but with some loops and a bit of string that you can use to make cleavage by tightening it up, I guess. I’m sure you already know what I am thinking here. I’m thinking, that I will untie the string bit, take it out of the loops, and use it to tie my hair up. It’s a brilliant idea! What could possibly go wrong? Don’t even start, I know I’m an idiot. I know. I KNOW.
So, I action my plan, and after a bit of fussing I have my hair tied back, and what is now a swimsuit with a VERY deep v neck. I plop into the water, and let’s just say, there were a certain degree of movement, which wasn’t present when the string was instated in its rightful place. I’m not sure I can swim like this; the nips are barely covered. I’m convinced that if I push off from the wall that my swimsuit it going to slip and I will basically be boobs out in the swimming pool. Lifeguards will be looking on horrified and small children will be heard crying in the background.
But, I’m here now, so I might as well make the most of it and try and swim. I tentatively push away from the wall, and everything is going swimmingly (pun intended) so far. Everything is remaining in place, all is where it should be and life is good. I swim for a bit, I do a few lengths, everything seems fine.
I push off from the wall a bit harder, and all of a sudden everything is distinctly less fine. Very much, distinctly less fine. There was a certain coolness against the skin where there wasn’t before. Chillier in places than one is perhaps used to. And when I say that, I mean that nips weren’t in, they were bordering on the out. I didn’t want them to be out. I very much wanted them to be in and a woman was heading towards me, and she was wearing goggles, and she was most definitely going to see, and I was most definitely going to die of embarrassment.
I stopped in the middle of the lane, pulled my swimsuit up violently (and in the process, gave myself a minor wedgie) and scrambled back to the wall. I think I had managed to preserve my dignity, somewhat. Christ Bonnie.
Today we fly from Port Elizabeth to Hoedspruit, which is around the Kruger National Park area. I can’t say I am sorry to leave Port Elizabeth. There is nothing there and it is one of my least favourite places I have ever visited. We fly from Port Elizabeth to Johannesburg and from Johannesburg we fly to Hoedspruit. The plane we took from Joburg had propellers – it has been a very long time since I have flown in anything with props. I think the last time I flew in a plane with props was when we were in Canada when I was about 10 or 11.
We had a wait of a couple of hours in Joburg airport, and we sat and had a coffee and I caught up on a few bits of life admin. This coffee place is the second place I have been able to find almond milk on this trip, so I was a very happy bunny.
We boarded the plane and set off to Hoedspruit. The airport there is so cute, it’s arrivals and departures “lounge” and more of a garage, it’s tiny. It reminded me of when we flew to a place in Australia and we had to take our own luggage off the plane. This wasn’t quite so involved, and they brought our luggage round on the back of a tractor.
We jumped in our hire car and set out to find the place we were staying; Thornybush Lodge. This turned out to be more easily said, than done. The instructions we had were not helpful, to say the least. We ended up driving round in a big circle, only to realise we had driven past the lodge right at the beginning and hadn’t clocked it (thinking it couldn’t possibly be that close). We eventually got there, after driving down loads of bumpy, dusty dirt roads. Which was really fun, well, for me anyway; not so sure about those in the back.
We spotted a fair few animals on our way, seeing giraffe, impala, and warthog. Quite a find, considering it was the heat of the day and it was about 33 degrees when we got there. Giraffe are so majestic, and it was amazing to just see three of them nibbling leaves off the trees as we drove past.
We get to the lodge and we are greeted with homemade lemonade and lunch. The lemonade is delicious, as was the lunch, and there are different salads to choose from and light bites. Super scrummy. We then had 30 minutes to sort ourselves out, and we were out on an evening game drive at 4 o’clock in the afternoon.
We are in what is called a “tented camp”, but to be honest, these tents are so posh, they are more like houses! They have proper beds and showers, and I even have an outside bath. The rooms point directly into the bush, so there is a chance you might see some wildlife wandering around when you open the curtains in the morning.
Whilst we are out, we see different types of antelope in abundance, including the tiny Duiker, which is very shy. We see loads of birds, including the Hornbill, who you might know from the film, The Lion King. We tracked some Elephant for a bit, but they were much faster than we were, and they made it across the border before we could see them.
By far the best experience though, was when we paused in the truck and a huge male lion leaped out from the river bed to our right-hand side and strolled straight in front of our vehicle. He was massive! The size of his paws was incredible, and he had a big gash on his right hind leg where he had been protecting his Pride from neighbouring male lions.
We followed him along, and he led us to where 4 members of his pride were laying out, snoozing in the sun. There were two young males, who were about 18 months old and two females. In a few months’ time, the young males will be kicked out of the pride to fend for themselves, as they will be well on their way to maturity.
The lions lolled about in the sun, laying on a nice flat bit of ground where we could get a really good look at them. We were so close, it was unbelievable; I had never thought I would be that close to a lion in my life.
After a long time watching the lions and learning about them (did you know that male lions could form a coalition? And they will look after multiple Prides of female lions in the area together? No, me either!).
We headed on for a bit, and found a good place to watch the sun go down. The sunset here is beautiful, and it is wonderful to watch the vibrant colours as the sun goes down, and the stark contrast of this in comparison to the dark trees in the foreground. We had a cheeky little alcoholic beverage as we watched the sun set, and I walked around the area and found some giraffe bones that were 5 years old to take a good look at.
We set off again and came across some baboons playing around in the trees, so we stopped to watch them for a bit. It always amazes me how agile monkeys are, they seem to defy gravity as they are leaping through the trees.
It was dark now, and we were looking for a leopard around the dry riverbed. Unfortunately, we didn’t have much luck, but we did see a tree frog, a hare and a cute little bushbaby chilling in a tree!! We headed back to the camp, and the first thing you notice is the sound of the frogs. They are SO loud, and they don’t stop. The only time they stop croaking for a bit, is if someone disturbs them. They stop for a few moments, but soon enough they are at it again. I wonder if it is all a big game to them, and whether they think it is hilarious to croak, knowing we can do precisely nothing about it.
We had some dinner, and then we were off to bed. We’d been up since 5.30 this morning, so we were fairly knackered. I sit here writing this, to the sound of a symphony of frogs. I wonder if they will ever stop, or if I will be dreaming of frogs… Or dreaming of throttling frogs.
Again, we attempted to find something to do in Port Elizabeth, and again we failed. We ended up stopping at a beach for a bit, where it seemed like everyone who had nothing to do hung out. It was overcast and really windy, so we didn’t end up staying for that long.
We went for a wander down the beach, and there was loads of coral washed up on the pebbles. I hadn’t seen any coral washed up on any of the beaches before, so this was interesting to me. There were all different types, and it was everywhere you looked. I would like to know why it was washing up on that beach in particular, but I can’t come up with an answer… It must be something to do with the positioning. Maybe I’ll never know!
I noticed one of the signs on the beach saying “zero tolerance” and then a list of things that weren’t tolerated, I couldn’t quite see what wasn’t tolerated, so I wandered a bit closer to take a look. On the list of things that were not tolerated, were dogs, lighting fires, alcohol and guns. Now, are guns and dogs really at the same level of public nuisance? Last time I checked, guns and dogs were definitely not in the same category. If you take your dog for a walk on the beach, do you go to prison for the same length of time as if you take your gun for a walk on the beach?! I think not.
Anyway, there is still nothing to do in this place, so we went back to the hotel and I read my book for a bit. I’m reading The Good Immigrant, which is a book written by 21 black, Asian and ethnic minority writers in Britain today. I’m only a couple of chapters in so far, but it’s been a good read. It’s interesting and it goes into different people’s experiences that they have had in their lives, and I like stuff that is real life.
I had a strawberry and banana smoothie and some sushi for lunch at one of the cafes on the bay, and went and chilled back at the hotel for a bit. I feel like I haven’t eaten enough fruit and veg on this holiday and I think I am on the verge of getting scurvy. I had better watch out for that.
We went for dinner at the same place we went to last night, which was Something Good. Seeing as it was so nice, we thought we might as well go back there and have what we knew would be a decent meal. There was live music on when we got there, which I love love love. It was just one guy doing covers of Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan songs and that kind of stuff, but live music is good and it cheered me up being able to sit and chill, listening to the music. I opted for a tipsy lemonade, which is a homemade lemonade with a double vodka in it. Yummy!
I am on my way up to Kruger National Park tomorrow, starting off in a tented camp for a few nights. Who knows if there will be wifi? Not I! So, if you don’t hear from me for a few days it’s because there is no wifi, or I’ve been eaten by a lion.
We went out in Port Elizabeth determined to find something to see and something to do. Turns out, it wasn’t that easy. We were supposed to be visiting friends whilst we were in Port Elizabeth, and we had planned to spend time with them, but as everything worked out, they ended up being in the UK whilst we were here in South Africa. If we’d known this earlier, we wouldn’t have stayed here so as long and probably would have been here for just one night instead of three.
I looked like a decent day, so I donned a summer dress and lace shirt, seeing as it was nice and sunny out. This was a big mistake. Over the course of the day it got windier and windier, and my skirt kept blowing up. It was impossible to hold down properly, and I dread to think how many people got a view of my butt. Sorry everyone!
We stopped for a drink at a café called Angelos which was on the beach. This tiny section of Port Elizabeth seems to be the liveliest part (but we didn’t know this at the time). I had a pineapple and apple juice, which looked pretty and tasted very much like pineapple and apple juice together. So, we are winning so far.
We head to Richmond Hill which is billed as being an up and coming area of Port Elizabeth with bars and restaurants. We arrived, and it was completely dead. There were no people there and no one was sat in any of the bars or restaurants. I appreciate it is the off season at the moment, but the lack of people made it very uncomfortable. We stuck out like sore thumbs and everyone was staring at us. So, it didn’t take us long to head back to the car and drive away. So far, Port Elizabeth is the only place where I have felt a bit threatened. It feels like everyone is staring at me all the time. People beep at me from their cars and shout things out the window. It’s super uncomfortable feeling like someone’s eyes are leering at you all the time.
That being said, I did have a man contact me on Instagram and ask me out on a date. He lives in the area and wanted to take me out. I said that I didn’t think there was much point, nice though he was, as I was leaving the next day to carry on my holiday. He invited me out for a drink in the evening, but, alas, I declined. I didn’t think his idea of a first date would be spending the evening sat at the dinner table with my parents. Maybe he was going to offer me his hand in marriage? Who know?!
We had dinner at a place called Something Good. A few people had mentioned it as being a decent place to eat, so we cut our losses and headed for it. I had a rock shandy to drink, the alcoholic content in it was zero to none, but it tasted like ginger beer and it was good. Gail had a tipsy lemonade, which was a homemade lemonade with vodka in it, which was really tasty.
For dinner, I had The Hangover burger, which came with a fried egg, cheese, caramelised onions, tomato, bacon and a jalapeño popper. I also treated myself to a side of tempura onion rings, which turned out to be an excellent shout. Oh, and the waitress said she loved my top, and I do so love an outfit compliment. It was all really tasty (especially the onion rings). The only downside was that my jalapeño popper gave me unbearable hiccups, and I thought they were going to tear out of my chest. I have never experience internal fire like it. But this is the fault of the consumer, rather than the fault of the jalapeño.
Oh, I forgot to tell you about dinner last night! It was soooooooo yummy. We went to this Italian restaurant called Mauro’s Restaurant in St Francis Bay. It is right in the harbour and serves some really tasty stuff and has a few speciality dishes.
The waitress there was great, and she took loads of time explaining the menu, their specialities and the specials they had on offer that day. I went for two of their speciality dishes, one which was a prawn soup (it was like a bisque with a mild curry flavour) and a scampi linguine, which came with tomatoes and a pesto sauce.
Both were beyond delicious, and I couldn’t fault either of them. They were both so flavourful and you could tell that some real time and effort had gone into making the dishes special and well balanced. If I ever come back to St Francis Bay, I will definitely be going there again. It doesn’t look hugely appealing from the outside, but I would advise you to look past this and go on in anyway. The owner of the restaurant (Mauro, funnily enough), came over and introduced himself to us at the end of the evening, and we had a good chat. He was half Austrian and half Italian, and had lived in South Africa since he was young, going back to Italy to train as a chef.
The next morning, I said goodbye to my room, which was about as close to the beach as you could get without being in a beach hut, and headed up to breakfast. I went for scrambled eggs with smoked salmon and tomatoes. I don’t think I have eaten this many eggs in my life, and I am probably on the verge of turning into a chicken any moment now (I think I can feel a beak forming).
We headed off towards Port Elizabeth after breakfast and noticed a sign for Jeffrey’s Bay on the way. We followed the signs for Jeffrey’s Bay because we had heard it was a good surfing spot, and we quite fancied watching a few surfers catching the waves. We got there, and it definitely has the surfer vibe. There are loads of guys around with sun bleached hair, in board shorts and bare feet (just what you want from a surfer, I think). We made our way to the beach, and there were about 30 kids all splashing about in the water. It looked like they were a class from a school as there were some teacher looking types on the beach with them (what a great school trip).
The beach at Jeffrey’s Bay is beautiful. It’s perfectly sandy and stretches on as far as the eye can see. We spotted some surfers up the way, so we ditched the shoes and the socks and made our way over to them.
There was a mix of guys and girls out there catching the waves. We stood there watching them for a while, riding the waves and falling in and doing tricks on their boards. There was one guy who was way better than the others, and he was doing some really cool tricks and running from one end of the board with another. I wish I was that athletic, and in my dreams this is how adept I will be at surfing when I have a go. In reality, however, I doubt I will even be able to stand up on the board for even a millisecond and will probably crash headfirst into the waves, if I can get anywhere near them.
Once we were done watching and I had had a paddle in the sea, which wasn’t anywhere near as cold as I had expected, we had a quick drink at a café and headed on our way to Port Elizabeth.
As we drove into Port Elizabeth, there didn’t seem to be a load of stuff here, and it was looking pretty industrial, which I guess is to be expected at a port! But it looked really busy, again, as I imagine a port should be. We found out hotel, which turned out to be pretty easy to locate, and we were shown to our rooms. I lucked out with a twin room, which was way bigger and much nicer than the double Gail and Les are in (heh, heh). It’s nice and noisy here and it sounds like a city. There is lots of beeping or car horns and shouting, which is making a nice change from the silence everywhere else.
It was dark by the time we got out for dinner and in the end, we settled for a Greek place called La Kouzina in Port Elizabeth, which turned out to be really nice. We shared starters of dolmades (vines leaves stuffed with rice), falafel and tzatziki and pita bread. The vine leaves were warmed through and they are a billion times better like that than they are cold. I ordered a mango daquiri, which was also really good. Often, I find daquiris can be a bit hit and miss, as a lot of the time they don’t get the ice smooth enough and it is way too lumpy, but this one was on point.
I had a main was good too; I had a wrap thing with chicken and hummus in it, which was tasty. I had another mango daquiri and I ended up finishing Gail’s second caipirinha cocktail (in which many lemons were harmed in the making of), and I was beyond full by the time I had sunk that. But I did it, not wanting to let a good citrusy cocktail go to waste. Because waste not, want not, right? I’m full of good deeds.
Today was a real day of firsts. We had breakfast outside on the veranda at the lodge we were staying at and the monkeys were running around and trying to steal people’s food. There was this one monkey which jumped right on the table in front of this guy and he screamed like a complete girl and looked genuinely terrified, which I thought was tres amusant. The staff had a slingshot which they used to scare off the monkeys. Just one look at it and they were off like a shot, back into the trees.
We travelled back towards Tsitsikamma National Park and pulled in at the Elephant Sanctuary, The Crags on our way. We had heard some mixed reviews from people about this place. Some people had said it was amazing and they had had a wonderful experience there, and others had said they found it a bit depressing. Most of the people who hadn’t enjoyed it had already been on a safari and seen the animals in the wild. We have become savvy to this mistake, and we always leave things like safaris to the end of the holiday, because we know you can’t beat experiencing animals in their natural habitat. Anyway, it was an incredible experience.
There are two different packages you can do, one where you take a walk with the elephants and you get to learn all about them and feed them, and another, where you do all of those things and then get to ride an elephant at the end. We chose the option with the elephant ride, because how many people get to say they have ridden an elephant?!
We started off by taking a tour of the grounds and the guide showed us the area in which the elephants sleep (which is always open so they can come and go as they please), then we had a look at the space where the elephants get to roam around in the day. He said it wasn’t as big as they would like and there weren’t very many trees, so they took the elephants out into the bush on a regular basis so they could do all the things elephants like to do. All the elephants here had been rescued for one reason or another. Some of them didn’t have any tusks and some of them had had a portion of their trunks cut off (they assumed as a result of being stuck in snares).
We got to hold hands with the elephants and go on a walk with them. When I say hold hands, I mean my hand and the elephants trunk. The elephant I was walking with was the Matriarch, and she had no tusks, but her trunk was fully functioning. They walked a lot faster than I had expected and she ended up pushing me along because I was going too slowly so I had to speed up.
We walked through a bit of the bush and stopped in an area where the keepers explained about the elephants. We got to touch the elephants whilst the keepers explained about each individual elephant and told us loads of interesting information about them. One of the cool things I learned was that elephants cry when they are upset, angry and happy, just like humans do!
The elephant I was with kept sniffing my trainers, and I was convinced that my feet must smell or something. But the guy told me that they remember by smell and not by sight, so they spend a lot of time sniffing around new people, and that if I came back in 10 years-time, she would remember me.
We got to give them some food, and then the elephant I was with sneezed all over me. Yuck!!! I’m so glad I was wearing my sunglasses, because I got elephant snot all over them and I think I would have been blinded if I’d been hit in the eye [hilarious]. It was pretty icky, but then, how many people can say they have been sneezed on by an elephant?
We walked back to the area where they spend the day and we got to feed them all some pumpkin. I know elephants eat a lot, but I hadn’t really seen what that meant in action. They ate a whole massive bucket full of pumpkin when we got back and they were still after more! By the end of that I was completely covered in pumpkin and mud and elephant snot, but it was so worth it.
After that we got to have a ride on the elephants. This was a great experience and the guide who was on there with me explained even more about the elephants and how they had come to be here. Again, I was surprised at how fast they moved and you could really feel all their muscles working underneath the blanket we were sitting on. It wasn’t as uncomfortable as I thought it was going to be, and to be honest I have had worse journeys in cars!
All so soon, the experience was over and we were heading on our way. But not before purchasing something from the shop so we could further help the elephants. I now have a cute yellow enamel bowl with a pair of elephants on it, which I will be using to consume all of my food as soon as I get home.
After the elephant experience, it was on to the second experience of the day. Bungee jumping – eek! It was with Face Adrenaline at Bloukrans Bungy, which is a 216-metre-high bungee jump off of Bloukrans Pass bridge. It’s the world’s highest commercial bungee jump, and the highest jump from a bridge. It’s also the highest bridge in Africa. I have never done a bungee jump before, so I thought I might as well start out with the highest one.
It was me and 5 or 6 other guys, all of whom were German. We walked across a walkway underneath the bridge, and you could see beneath you the whole way down. Loads of people don’t even make it past that bit, so I was doing well so far. When you are up there, there are so many guys working the ropes and stuff, there are easily 10 of them up there. They play music when you are up there to keep you pepped up and to try and stave off any fear.
They put you in order and they strap your ankles up and get you ready for the jump. They check, check and re-check that you are strapped up properly and then it’s time to go. They are taking photos of you and filming you the whole time, so there is evidence of every part of your journey. They made a big show of checking my safety (I don’t know if this was because I was the only girl, but they definitely took longer over me than they did any of the others).
Because your ankles are strapped together, you have to hop to the edge of the jump platform supported by a couple of guys. Then you put your arms out to your sides like you are Christ the Redeemer and they count you down. 5,4,3,2,1 and jump. You have to bend your knees and push as hard and you can and jump out as far as possible. It’s the strangest feeling as you leap through the air, because at that moment you are completely weightless and your life is quite literally out of your hands. You free fall for 5 or 6 seconds, and you start to wonder if there is ever going to be tension on the cord as you plummet towards the bottom of the valley.
All of a sudden you feel the tension and you are on the recoil. You bounce up and down about 4 times, looking rather like a ragdoll, and then you hang there waiting for the guy to come and get you. You hang upside down for quite a while, spinning around, having no idea if anyone is coming to get you. Out of nowhere, a man’s butt appeared in my face and I was being pulled up into a seated position and being winched up.
When you get up there they unhook you and unstrap you and pull you up. My legs had gone all wobbly from the adrenaline and I could hardly walk when I got off. I’d gone completely weak at the knees! I would definitely do it again, it’s exhilarating and that moment of pure freedom and helplessness is worth its weight in gold; there is nothing else like it. I have some proper photos of my experience, but I can’t get to them at the moment – but rest assured I will be showing you them as soon as I can.
It was a glorious day today; the sun was out and the weather was beautiful. We went up for breakfast and I had some boiled eggs (which I haven’t had for years) and an orange juice. Oh, and I found the resident kitty! Which made me happy as Larry. He was really old (17) and he meowed a lot which I loved, and we had a good chat.
I took a couple of photos of our villa in the sun, and the views from the veranda. I donned the dungarees, a white shirt and put my hair in space buns, and we headed out.
We drove into Tsitsikamma National Park and headed towards the Storms River Mouth. Here they have hiking trails you can walk along and there is one trail with suspension bridges you can walk across.
Having worked up a bit of a thirst, we stopped for a coffee at the restaurant there, and the coffee came in old fashioned enamel cups!
The restaurant was right by the sea, and there were some seriously big waves coming in and crashing against the rocks. The scenery was beautiful (I don’t think I’ve seen a bad view yet in South Africa).
We decided to go for the suspension bridge trail first. We walked up and up through the trees and there was loads of bird life flitting about around us and some great lookout spots along the way. We also found a couple of good spots to take some photos, and I ended up clambering up into a tree for a good pic. I almost ended up falling out because I put my hand down to steady myself on a branch that wasn’t attached, as it turns out. But I managed to grab on and save myself from any unfortunate mishaps – close shave! If I’d fallen out of that tree my pride would have been very much dented, and I probably would have landed on someone and squashed them, which would have been mortifying.
After about an hour we got to the suspension bridge and made our way across it. As per usual, on the suspension bridge, there was someone doing their best to rock it backwards and forwards to scare everyone (dick). Once they had stopped being an ass, we go across to the other side where there was a little pebble beach and some rocks.
I perched on the one of the rocks and we sat and looked out at the waves rolling in. Out of nowhere the waves started crashing against the bottom of the rocks we were sitting and the water came spraying up the side of the rock. There is a great picture of my turning round in shock to see the wave crashing up behind me.
We headed back across the bridge after taking a few more pics now there were a few less people on there, and headed back down the trail. We stopped for a quick snack and another drink at the restaurant and then headed towards another trail, which was a bit shorter. It was only a kilometre long, this trail, but it was a really steep ascent with hardly any steps. We were doing a lot of clambering over rocks and swinging around on bits of trees.
We got to the top of this trail and there was a great view of the ocean where you could sit and watch for whales. We wouldn’t have been able to see anything much because the water was so choppy, so we started out descent. We were supposed to walk alongside this waterfall, but as we got to it, you could hardly see it because the trees were obscuring the view, which was a bit disappointing. I trotted down the remainder of the trail and ran back to the car which was about a kilometre away. I collected the car and brought it back to Gail and Les, as they had been a bit behind me on the trail. Running in dungarees is distinctly harder than in your gym kit, which is hard enough as it is. Not going to lie – I got a proper sweat on.
We went back to Hogs Hollow Country Lodge and got ready for dinner. I wanted to get up there a bit earlier than we had the night before, as they served canapes before the meal and last night I only managed to get myself one canape, which is certainly not enough. We didn’t end up getting up there for dinner in time for me to get myself more than one canape [insert cry of anguish here]. I am determined to get at least two tomorrow, even if it kills me.
There were some new people at our communal dinner table and there was a couple from Aberdeen who had decent chat. I got talking to the husband and he seemed to take quite a shine to me and we had a really good conversation. He even showed me a video of some people bungee jumping off the bridge in Tsitsikamma National Park (which is what I am going to be doing tomorrow). And he jumped on the defensive when someone at the table said that young people can’t hold conversations anymore. Love this guy! It’s always nice when you get talking to someone you get on with and who clearly enjoys talking to you as well. The joys of the communal dinner table eh?
We were moving on from Wilderness today to a place near Plettenberg Bay, called Hog Hollow Country Lodge, which is in The Crags. For breakfast, I went all out and had eggs benedict accompanied by chakalaka. I never usually have breakfast, so eating a full meal in the morning time is very rare for me, but I didn’t fancy any of the buffet options and I feel kind of weird not having anything, so I went for the eggs. It tasted very much like eggs benedict and it reminded me why I don’t have this kind of stuff in the morning; it’s just too rich and sickly. But it was still yummy.
We popped down the road to Knysna and stopped in a cute little coffee shop there, and low and behold, they had almond milk. I haven’t seen any option for soya milk or almond milk whilst I have been out here, so I have been drinking black coffee, which is fine, but I do so love almond milk. I was a very happy bunny, so much so that I even took a photograph of my almond milk latte.
We drove up to The Heads in Knysna, which had a view of the bay and you could see out to sea from there. We saw a tonne of different birds whilst we were walking around up there and we even saw a cute lil’ mousey thing.
After that we stopped off at Plettenberg Bay, where there really isn’t much to look at. So, we did what we usually do, and stopped for a coffee and a cake. In this coffee shop out waiter took quite a shine to me (for some unknown reason) and kept looking at me when he as attending to our table. He seemed really shy and he didn’t speak to me, but he kept looking up at me from under his eyelashes and then looking away embarrassed. If I am ever looking for a husband in South Africa I will make it my mission to find him.
We headed back to the car, and after a brief altercation with the parking attendant in very broken English and a torrent of Afrikaans, we were on our way. We haven’t had any trouble with any of the guys up until now. You give them a couple of Rand for looking after your car and seeing out of your parking space and you are on your way. But this guy clearly wasn’t happy with his payment and decided that he needed to shout at me and stick his head in through the car window. I don’t mind giving these guys a bit of change, but to complain that you haven’t received enough money for doing precisely nothing is a bit cheeky in my opinion. They wave you out of a space in which you could easily back an artic lorry out of.
We made it to Hogs Hollow Country Lodge, The Crags and we sat on the veranda and awaited our rooms having been provided with a glass of champagne each (don’t mind if I do). Whilst we were sitting there some Vervet monkeys came down and were running around us and chasing one another along the railings and over the canopy above us. As I had my champagne I hand, I didn’t manage to get any photos, but I will be rectifying this as soon as I can.
When it came to our room, it turned out we had been upgraded. This meant we were staying in The Villa. Now, The Villa is more like a mansion, it’s MASSIVE. It has its own pool, the kitchen is bigger than ours at home, the baths are pretty much swimming pools and it even has a pool table and a table tennis table. Pure madness. I’ll show you it on a nice day, rather than it on an overcast day; so here are some pics from the site. It is every bit as incredible as it looks.
The service here is amazing too. When we came back from dinner, someone had been in and turned down my bed, put a hot water bottle between the sheets and placed a bedtime story on my pillow. I thought I was going to pass out because it was so cute and thoughtful.
It turns out there isn’t that much to do in the area around Wilderness, but to be honest, I was quite pleased as I really wanted a chilled day. After breakfast overlooking the bay, we went for a walk along the beach. I probably didn’t choose the best outfit to go wandering along the beach in; a burgundy corduroy skirt, a shirt, tights and trainers.
It was also kind of overcast today, which was a shame, but you can’t be blessed with perfect weather the whole time you are on holiday! We walked down the steps to the beach and as we were nearing the bottom of the steps, I realised the steps were broken. When I say broken, I mean the bottom flight of stairs weren’t there. They just stopped and there was a drop of about a couple of metres. There was no way I was walking all the way back up to go down another set of steps, so I decided to jump off. This could have gone very badly on account of how clumsy I can be, but fortunately I managed this without too much trouble.
We set about walking along the beach, and I was looking for a good pebble to pick up. I normally look for a heart shaped pebble when I am at the beach, but these were all way too smooth and round. But I did find a pebble that is pretty much a perfect circle, so that is now safely stowed in my rucksack.
We got down to the end of the beach and climbed up a set of steps which were much better maintained, and ended up in what appeared to be someone’s garden. We walked along the road a bit hoping to see a town or somewhere to get a drink, but there wasn’t one, so we decided to head back down to the beach to walk back.
We were on top of a massive sand dune, which I ran down, ending up with about a kilo of sand in my trainers. Sigh. We walked all the way back and selected a set of steps which came all the way down to the beach and walked back up towards the hotel.
After I had emptied all the sand out of my trainers, we thought we would drive to Mossel Bay as the guide book had stated it was an up and coming area. We got there and up and coming it certainly was not. If this was up and coming, I dread to think of what it was like before. There was quite literally nothing there. We sat and had a coffee and whilst we were drinking our drinks we read a leaflet about things to do in Mossel Bay. It turns out there is an iron museum in Mossel Bay. As in ironing, as in laundry. What?! In the leaflet it said that is contained over 900 different irons, some of which are rare. There is even an exhibition displaying different washing machines and mangles. TO be quite frank, I would rather roll myself through a mangle than go and see that. A little disappointed, we made our way back to the hotel.
Seeing as it was only the afternoon, we thought we would head down to the spa. So, I donned a bikini. Shortly after, I remembered why I never wear a bikini. It’s actually not comfortable wearing an underwired bra posing as a swimsuit when you are trying to relax, and I always end up so conscious of tummy rolls the entire time I am wearing one. I know I’m not supposed to worry about it, but I definitely still do. Maybe every roll’s a goal? Maybe not. Probably not. Anyway, I wanted to go in the steam room and sauna but they were both closed. Grrrrr. Fortunately, the lady working in the spa turned on the steam room so we could go in there and we sat in the jacuzzi and bubbled around for a bit whilst we waited for it to heat up. After sweating out what I am pretty sure was all the water I had in my body, I exited said steam room and went to get ready for dinner.
We struck out for dinner and ended up in a little place in Wilderness Village, a place called Cocomo Restaurant. We went in there because it looked busy and it was absolutely rammed. It does live music every night and it does these amazing looking pizzas. These pizzas are basically the size of the moon. I have never seen pizzas this big in my entire life. They cook them in their own wood-fired pizza oven and they have a serious amount of topping on them, scrimp on topping they do not. I am not ashamed to say I ate the whole thing, not ashamed at all.
I shouldn’t have eaten it all, because it took me about an hour to get to sleep because I was so incredibly full. But I feel like it was worth it.
Today we were travelling from Hermanus to a place called Wilderness. With no stopping, it would be about a three-and-a-half-hour drive from one to the other. We left the B&B at about 10am and headed towards Cape Agulhas, which is where the Indian and the Pacific oceans meet. It is the southernmost point of the continent of Africa, so it’s a pretty special place. We parked up and we decided to walk the rest of the way, which was just over a kilometre.
But first I needed a wee, so I made for the loo. As I walked into the cubicle, I realised someone had left their phone in there. So, I grabbed it and made my way back to the sinks to see if it belonged to anyone. Fortunately, the woman was still there and she was very thankful and thanked me for being such a kind stranger (yay for praise!), but then proceeded to ask me if I would put it in her bag and zip it up as her hands were still wet. I feel like this was a bit of a liberty to take, but obviously, I obliged because I am British and I couldn’t possibly refuse and run the risk of being seen as rude.
We started walking down the boardwalk to the most southern pointy bit of Africa. Some of the rock formations here were really cool and they were completely different colours. There were some light grey rocks and some dark brown rocks and some of them had orange bits in them. The views here were breath-taking, but it was also super windy here, so the weather didn’t lend itself to a selfie unfortunately (“how will we live without a selfie. Bonnie?!” I hear you cry).
When we got to the place, there was a prime photo taking spot where there was a sign which stated that this was the most southern point and where the two oceans met. We had to wait for a bit until it was our turn and I ended up having to take a few photos of people. I always end up being asked to take photos of people, I’ve been told it’s because I have an open face, but I actually think it is because they look at me and know that if I made a run for it with their camera, they would be able to catch me.
We took a few photos here and I clambered up onto the top of the rock the plaque was fixed to. It was pretty high and I really had to jump to push myself up on top of it. I got a little bit stuck and I looked like a beached whale rolling around on the top of this thing. But no matter, all in a bid to get a good pic (I’m not sure it was).
Then wandered up a bit and I clambered around on some of the rocks; because I can’t stop myself from doing childish things like that. Then, we turned back and headed towards the lighthouse.
After all that walking, we had worked up quite an appetite, and headed back towards the town to a little roadside restaurant we had spied on the way in. This place was basically a little shack on the side of the road, but it cooked your fish and chips to order. It was so yummy, the batter they put on the fish was super light, and the chips were just the best things. Needless to say, I ate the whole thing, to the point where I felt fit to burst.
All too soon we were back on the road and heading towards Wilderness. We drove for wat seemed like forever, through endless countryside and farmland and even through a township where all the kids waved at us as we drove though (so sweet). I got to the point where I was super tired from driving and I needed to pull over for a break. We stopped off in this tiny town where we couldn’t even find somewhere to get a coffee. Eventually we stopped to ask this guy who was standing by the side of the road and he very kindly invited us into his kitchen/museum/antique shop place.
I wish I could tell you the name of the place so you could all go and visit there. Not because the coffee was incredible or anything, but this guy was seriously good value. The amount of pure bullshit that he was spouting was absolutely incredible! I had to turn away and look at the wall to stop myself laughing out loud. The number of things this bloke had done in his life and the number of different jobs he had done, he would have had to have been about 150 years old to achieve all of this. He was telling us that he was training to be a pianist when he was scouted for his talent for opera. He supposedly trained as an opera singer and then lived in Milan for 7 years. My suspicions began to arise when he told us that he was fluent in Italian but could now barely even say hello in the language.
Next, he was telling us that he trained to be a chef in Italy, and then re-training in traditional South African cuisine when he got back to the country. He then went about telling us that he had a doctorate in speech therapy and he worked with the same group of eleven children from when they were two to sixteen. He gleefully told us that they had all finally learned the gift of speech around the time they were sixteen and he left them as they no longer needed him. I feel like he can’t have been very good at his job if it took him all that time to get them to speak. But then, I don’t have a doctorate in speech therapy, do I?
By far my favourite bit of this yarn he was spinning, was the bit at the end, where he was telling us that he was due to travelling to Milan to perform in an opera. In this opera, he would be accompanied by Andrei Rieu. I must have misheard, surely? Surely, he meant he would be accompanying Andrei Rieu? No, he didn’t. He is genuinely telling us that THE Andrei Rieu, was going to be accompanying him in an opera. Unbelievable. I don’t think I have ever laughed so hard in my life as I did when I got back to the car. I had been holding it all in for so long and I couldn’t stop it any longer. I laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed. And then I laughed some more.
Eventually we made it to our hotel in Wilderness, which is really beautiful, and I found myself a chair suspended from the ceiling to sit in. I tried to fight the urge to swing in it, but I couldn’t, and soon I was swinging wildly about the place in my spherical seat. Les enjoyed giving me a bit of a push, and the highlight of the evening was when he went to put his phone in the inside pocket of his jacket and it fell all the way through. More laughter ensued (and much snorting) and I seriously got the giggles. I think I had got a bit hysterical at this point.
Today we were going whale watching a few miles outside of Hermanus. We had to drive to the place in the morning for 9.15 am so we could get on the boat and go and see some marine life. Seeing as I was going on a boat, this seemed like the perfect time to don my nautical tee. I got this t-shirt from Primark for like £2.50 and it is white with blue anchors and tiny red hearts printed on it – super cute. Obviously, I teamed this with dungarees, and I went for white trainers and a white scrunchie (because I do so love colour coordinating).
We headed down to breakfast and the table was beautifully laid out (another shout out to Les Baleines bed and breakfast in Hermanus), and everything looked super scrummy. There was yoghurt already waiting on the table for us, and a muffin, granola and a piece of fruit each. I declined the yoghurt on account of the whole dairy thing, and Les quickly relieved me of the bowl. To make up for it I ate his granola out of the little jar and I ate Gail’s too. I inhaled my muffin too, which was really good and served in a tiny flower pot (appealing to my obsession with miniature things).
Soon we were on the road and heading towards our whale watching trip with Dyer Island Cruises. When we got there, we were greeted with coffee and muffins after we had signed in and paid for our trip. We were taken through a safety briefing, and we were also given a talk about the African Penguins on Dyers Island. Not so long ago, there was 23,000 penguins on the island, and now there are only about 2,000. This is due to the harvesting of the penguin guano from the island, which the penguins used to burrow down into to make their nests. The team at Dyer Island Cruises are doing some really cool stuff to help the penguins. They have devised some penguin houses which they make out of 100% recycled materials, which they put on the island for the penguins to nest in them. Apparently, the penguins love these things and they are desperate to get in there are soon as they can, and they are already carrying in twigs for their nests before the team have finished!
We got kitted out with a life jacket and a fetching orange waterproof jacket to keep off any spray, and we headed down to the launch point. I hadn’t realised that the boats were taken out of the water after they were used, so we got to watch the guys reverse the massive boat into the water on a trailer with a tractor and let her slip. We all got on and took our seats. Now, this boat had four 250 engines on the back of it, which had some serious oomph behind them. The second we were out of the harbour, we were going full throttle and absolutely flying over the waves. A few people got seasick, but fortunately I don’t get seasick like this. Put me on a boat in a force 8 and I’ll have no problem, but on the ferry from Dover to Calais I’ll get sick as a parrot – funny eh?
Not long after we got out to sea, we saw our first whale. It was a Southern Right whale, which gets its name from being in the Southern hemisphere and being considered the “right” whale to hunt. They were considered the best whales to hunt because they spend a lot of time near the surface, they move really slowly and they also float to the surface once they are killed. There’s a little fun/not so fun fact for you.
This whale was super chilled and she was lazing about and rolling around and laying on her back. She showed us her flippers and we chilled there with her for about half an hour.
Then, behind us there was a young male, who leapt out of the water and breached. I missed the first one (which was the best one) but I saw the next two which were slightly less enthusiastic. I managed to sort of get a picture of it.
After that, they spotted some more whales off in the distance so we headed over in that direction towards them. As the boat was moving away and we went over a wave I managed to lose my balance (the boat was barely moving) and I ended up kneeing a fairly hefty chunk of metal and I have a nice purple bruise on me knee – standard. The funny thing is, I actually pride myself on my sea legs and being good on a boat and not getting seasick. And there I am going arse over tit when we go over the tiniest wave known to man. Lets just say it caught me off guard okay? FAIL! Anyway, we moved over to the whales which had been spotted. At first there was just two, but then soon another pair appeared and all four of them were hanging out together. The spot where we saw the whales is a breeding ground, so I think they were there to make babies.
One of the females was diving and kept showing us her tail which I managed to get a few snaps of, which I am pretty pleased with! It’s so hard trying to judge where and when they are going to go down and come back up, so I had my camera at the ready the entire time and took so many photos – most of which I deleted because they were of precisely nothing because I had missed the good shot.
Once we were done with the whales, we left them to it and headed over to the Cape fur seal colony on Geyser Rock. There are 60,000 seals here so it was super noisy and busy (and seriously stinky).
They were all playing in the water around the rock when we got over there. They were splashing about and jumping out of the water and messing about with one another. There were some really little ones there as well, which were super cute.
All too soon we were on our way back to the harbour. We had been out for hours and hours, but I still didn’t want to go back. I love nothing more than seeing animals in their natural habitat and it was such an amazing experience.
After that, we had some soup and a bread roll at the place, then we were on our way back to Hermanus. It was still early in the day, so we went for a wander around the town and stopped for something to eat and drink in this cute little café called Aromatish Café and Bakery in Hermanus. They do the best looking cakes in there, and we had a milk tart, a slice of banting cheesecake and a carrot cake to share. Delicious doesn’t even describe it, particularly the banting cheesecake which I have never had before. It had an almond base to it, which is way better than the biscuit base on your standard cheesecake which I always leave.
Before we went bck to our B&B for the evening, we went down to the beach and had a drink in a beach bar type place called Dutchies which had been recommended by a few locals and then went for a paddle in the sea. Which was FREEZING, but it was fun running into the sea and then running away from the waves. It was like being a kid again – so freeing.
Today we are making our way from Cape Town to Hermanus via the coastal road. We went and dropped of our rental car from yesterday and picked up our rental car, which we will have for the next ten or eleven days. We were geared up for a difficult trip around the city, with my crappy map reading, but it actually wasn’t so bad. Everything is much easier in the day light and we recognised a lot of landmarks and road names as we were driving along. We stopped off at the first car rental place to drop off Gail and the luggage and paused to have another look at the map, to try and locate the second car rental place to drop the car off at.
The second we stop, that is when I lose my bearings on the map and start getting really confused. I have no idea which direction we are facing once we have stopped and the whole map thing makes even less sense to me than it did before. I try pointing the map in the direction we are travelling, but then I can’t read the road names and I start to get flustered – stupid illogical brain. But, as it so happens, the other car rental place was literally 100 yards from where we were. All we had to do was drive across the intersection. This was made much more difficult by a massive truck with a digger loaded onto the back of it, trying to make its way up this narrow road, and a very impatient Fiat Punto behind us. After a tiny bit of gesturing and waving, we managed to free ourselves of the truck and angry Fiat man, and made it to the place to drop the car off.
We loaded all of our gear into the back of a Hyundai Tuscon and made our way out of Cape Town. At this point I feel the need to mention that I have never made it out of a city so easily, as we did Cape Town. It was really clearly signposted and once you were on the right road, you were out of the city in no time. As we started driving towards the coast, we headed past a few townships (which I love looking at). Townships are like shanty towns or favelas, for those of you that don’t know. And all the houses are made out of bits of corrugated tin and plastic and whatever else can be found. Soon we were driving down the coastal road, but it was a teeny bit overcast and everything was looking a bit grey.
After a failed attempt to find breakfast in Gordons Bay (which was basically a ghost town and made us feel super uncomfortable), we found somewhere to eat in Pringle Bay. We found a cafe with some seats outside and I settled for a rosti stack; which is posh for hash browns, bacon, tomato and omelette. But a glorious stack it was, and it certainly filled a hole.
The waitress who served us was really sweet and she was practising her English (she spoke Afrikaans) and she was telling us about a riot that was going on in a neighbouring town, which had meant some of the staff couldn’t get in today. We had to go through this town to get to our next destination. Gail wanted to find a route around it, whereas I wanted to drive through it so I could see what it was like (classic Bonnie). It was my turn to drive, so I decided we were going to drive through said riot town, so we could have a look.
As we were driving towards the town, we could see some smoke rising. It looked like there was either something on fire, or a very big chimney spouting a lot of smoke. As we drew closer we could see there were lots of smaller fires as well as this big one. It was difficult to see whether it was houses that had been set on fire, or just fires that had been built, as it was up on a hill. As we got into town there were loads of police blocking off the main road and the fire engines were on standby. We had to bypass the main road and weave our way through the back streets to make it out of the town.
Once we were out of the town we headed towards Betty’s Bay. As we were getting closer to it we started seeing some signs for penguins. Yay! Another penguin colony! I followed the signs and we entered the bay where the penguin colony is. It was much smaller than the penguin colony at Boulder’s Bay and the penguin colony at Betty’s Bay was infinitely better in my opinion. The jackass penguins at Betty’s Bay were much closer and there were hardly any people there, so you could take all the time you wanted to look at them and take photos. The colony of African Penguins at Betty’s Bay was about a quarter of those at Boulder’s.
We wandered up the viewing platform and we came across one little guy right next to the walk way. I could have reached out and touched him, and I was desperate to, but I stopped myself. Knowing that A) he would have bitten me, and B) you shouldn’t touch them.
I took about a thousand photos of this little penguin and had a long conversation with him about the price of fish. Well, more just the random rambling (normally) one sided conversations that I have with animals I come across.
After I had my fill of the penguins we started heading back to the car and we saw a dassie, which is like a big rodent thing and looks kind of like a guinea pig. This little guy was clearly in need of a back scratch and kept rolling around on his back. He looked so funny and it made me laugh like a complete idiot (checkout my Insta to see a video here).
After that we whizzed all the way to Hermanus without any stops and located Les Baleines bed and breakfast after much driving around. This bed and breakfast in Hermanus is all kinds of beautiful. The rooms are gorgeously decorated and the bathroom is incredible. It’s worth staying a little outside of the town for such an amazing place. For dinner, we went to Burgundy restaurant on Marine Road. It had been recommended by the staff at the B&B and in a couple of the guide books too. The food was incredible. End of. We started off with some homemade bread which was sweet and full of seeds and nuts, and I had a main course of bobotie which is a kind of curry with an egg topping. I had the veggie version which was made with lentils and came with pumpkin fritters. I thought I had died and gone to heaven.
Today we were travelling down to Cape Point by car, and for that, we needed to hire a car. Last night we had asked the lady at the front desks to arrange us a hire car, but when we came down the next morning it seems she had forgotten, so we had no hire car. Great. We thought it might be a good idea but o see if we could pick up our hire car for the next leg of our journey a day early.
Turns out, this was not a good idea. It took the woman at reception FOREVER to sort this out with the car hire company, and then we got told we couldn’t have the car until 2 pm, which the woman said yes to without asking us. Clearly 2pm would have been way to late, considering at this point it was 8.30 in the morning. We asked her to cancel that (which she looked less than pleased about) and set about arranging a separate car for us to hire for the day. There were no cars left with the same company, and she had clearly had enough of our unreasonable demands at this point, so she put us in a taxi and sent us on our way to hire a car from Thrifty.
When we got to the place, it was closed. I like to think that she knew it was shut and the place had moved units and she just sent us there to mess with us, but we will never know the answer to that. The note on the door pointed us towards another unit, but having no idea where that was, we were a bit stuck. Fortunately we managed to wave at our taxi driver before he made it round the corner and he came back and picked us up and very kindly dropped us where the car hire place were operating from for free. What an amazing bloke, whoever you are, I salute you and I am forever in your debt.
By the time we got to the car hire place it was about 10 o’clock and all of the hire cars had gone. Winner! (that was sarcasm by the way) and we were stuck with a pretty pricey Mercedes hatchback. We couldn’t work how to out the blasted thing in drive, so we had to call the guy back out to show us, which he looked terribly amused about. Eventually we were away and driving. It took us a little bit of time to figure out where we were on the map, not helped by the fact that the scaling in the map was way off and you were looking for a road that you had actually gone past 2 minutes ago. We managed to get out, and soon enough we we’re heading down the road to Cape Point after only a tiny family argument in the car.
We drove back towards Hout Bay, where we had been the day before and decided to stop for some breakfast. Just before Hout Bay we spied this busy looking little cafe called Ta-Da, so we went in there. It was full of people and had an amazing vibe and an even more amazing breakfast menu. This place was basically like a shack on the side of the road, with wooden benches out front. I settled on a French toast combo, with fried banana, bacon and syrup – which was all kinds of yummy.
We sat there and watched some kids climbing around in the trees, in what was a beautiful Sunday morning and after a while we went on our way, but not without a trip to the loo first.
Cape Town is experiencing a major drought at the moment, hence the sign, but it made me laugh and I do love having something torrid on the back of the toilet door. We carried on driving down (or up? Not sure) the coastal road, stopping at view points along the way to take in the scenery and get some pics.
After a couple of hours we made it to The Boulders where they have a colony of penguins you can view. Now, I love me a penguin, they are so cute the way they waddle and they look like little old men. The viewing platform was chocca with tourists, but I still managed to get some decent pics and a selfie, of course. We spotted another viewing platform, so we made our way back the way we had come and around to the other platform.
On the way we saw some penguins chilling in the bushes with their babies. Amusingly one of the penguins tried to bite Gail when she was crouched down trying to take a photo of it.
We stood and watched the penguins on the beach for a bit, the best bit is when they try to walk up the beach after coming out of the water and a wave creeps up behind then and knocks them over, so cute!
After we’d had out fill of penguins, we carried on towards Cape Point. Along the way there warnings about baboons on the side of the road, so by the time we got to Cape Point I was dying to see one, and I wasn’t disappointed! We saw some adult ones jumping from car to car, and I saw a little one messing around with a car arial, who posed for a nice photo for me, before he started scratching his ear.
We started walking up the hill to Cape Point, I quickly dismissed the funicular railway because I like to think I am a hardy, athletic type [insert laughing, crying emoji here] and I started ploughing my way up the hill, leaving Gail and Les in my wake and narrowly avoiding some baboons who came pelting towards me.
After clambering up what felt like a million steps, we made it to the to of Cape Point, whilst catching our breath and mopping our brows, we looked out over the water and took the opportunity to take some photos. Then we started heading back down the steps, which I personally find worse than walking up, as it’s pretty hard on the knees.
I’m kind of getting to the point where I’ve had enough now. It’s about 4 o’clock in the afternoon and we’ve been out looking at stuff all day. On our way back, we stop off at Simons Bay for some food. The palace we had been recommended was closed, so we settled for Bertha’s on the harbour of Simons Bay. I opened for a seafood platter for one, which came with calamari, butterfly prawns, mussels and the catch of the day, the catch of the day was angel fish, which I kind of felt bad about eating because they are so pretty, but less bad once I tasted how delicious it was.
We drive back through the towns, rather than along the coastal road, which was interesting to see, if not quite as beautiful and ended up back in Cape Town as night fell. It was pretty difficult to get a bearing on where we were in the dark, and we had to do a few circles until we recognised where we were. That being said and all things considered, I think we managed to get back to our apartment without too much trouble. My map reading skills are shocking and I always start to panic when I can’t see where I am on the map, so it could have gone a lot worse. I have to say all the roads aloud as we go past and I think people think it is to help the driver, but it really isn’t – it’s purely so I can tick it off in my head as we go past. I’m that incapable.
I had planned to wake up at 7.30 and go out for a run today (harhar), but as you can imagine, that didn’t happen and I ended up sleeping in until 9 am. We had planned to hire a car and go to Robben Island and take a drive around the Cape Peninsular, but by the time we got down to reception it was about 10.30 am and it was kind of too late to hire a car, plus there were no tickets available for the ferry to Robben Island as they were all booked up. That will teach us for not getting our arses in gear and booking beforehand.
It was a clear and warm day however, so we decided we would go up Table Mountain instead. The past couple of days had been a bit cloudy, so Table Mountain hadn’t been an option, mainly because you couldn’t actually see the thing. If I hadn’t known it was there, I wouldn’t have believed you if you had told me it was there. We bought tickets to go up Table Mountain online before we went, having heard that if you get a ticket when you are up there, you end up having to wait in a queue for hours.
We got a South African Uber up to Table Mountain, the driver was very knowledgeable and took the time to explain how to drive to Hermanus, telling us what landmarks to look out for on the way. I forgot all of this immediately, so I still have no idea how to get to Hermanus. I think I’ll probably just follow the sat nav to be honest, or I’ll just use the force. The force always seems to work out for me. I’m like a homing pigeon, I’ve got that internal compass.
We get to Table Mountain and we join the queue for those who already have tickets. Funny isn’t it, joining a queue so you don’t have to queue? It feels very British. It doesn’t take too long to get through and we are waiting in the loading bay for the cable car in about 20 minutes. Now, I hate cable cars. I know they are 100% safe, and it’s not even the height that bothers me. It’s the swaying. The swaying gets me and it completely shits me up, so I start getting a nerve on as we waited. This was relieved somewhat by watching the Chinese group of tourists in front of us taking photos of one another. They were taking shots of one another on their Hwawei’s like it was nobody’s business, and I spied a few hilarious chin shots being taken. These pics were legit 85% chin and 10% visor and 5% scenery, and I had to turn away to stop myself snorting at them.
We got on the cable car and it turned out it wasn’t so bad. The floor rotated As we went up so we could get a 360 view of the mountains and the views from it, and this kind of distracted me from any swaying. We stepped off the cable car and WOW. We were greeted with an incredible view. When I say incredible, it was genuinely astounding.
The sky was so blue and the greys of the mountain rock were a stark contrast. I got some amazing photos from the top of the mountain, which isn’t so flat when you get up there. In comparison to other mountains it’s still super flat, but there were lots of rocky bouldery bits, which made for great pics when you stood or sat on them, looking like you were about to drop off the edge of the world.
We stood on the right hand side of the mountain and we wanted some clouds rolling in. This was such a beautiful sight. Because the top of the mountain is flat, the speed of the cloud coming in was amazing. It sped across the top of the mountain, and then dropped over the edge and ran down the side, just like it was dry ice. I have never seen anything like that before in my life.
We spent about three hours in total on the top of the mountain. We walked all the way around it and took photos at all possible angles. The air up there was so clear and it was so worth it, but I just wish there weren’t quite so many people up there, so we could have had a bit of peace and quiet to experience it in.
If I ever came here again, I think I would get up super early and go to the mountain ready for the first cable car up to the top. I reckon this would be an incredible place to sit and have a romantic breakfast picnic, so if I ever locate a significant other, I will be forcing them to Cape Town and up the mountain and ridiculous O’clock in the morning. So, sorry about that future husband or wife.
After the mountain we took a ride to Hout Bay. The drive to Hout bay was incredible. Something that has surprised me about South Africa is the incredible difference in scenery in such a small space. You can absolutely understand why so much filming is done here, as the diversity of surroundings is amazing. The coastal road we drove down to reach Hout Bay had some amazing views, and I would have liked to have been able to stop more and take some photos, but you can’t have everything (plus we were on a meter).
When we got to Hout Bay, I was half starved, so we went straight into a restaurant on the Mariners Wharf and had some baby Kingklip, covered in garlic butter (I can tell you now, I lived to regret this). We went for a wander along the beach and took some photos of the bay. We wanted to have a paddle, but the wind had got up by then as it was late afternoon and I think I would have turned into a block of ice the second my toe touched the water, so we avoided any paddling this time.
We got the bus back from here to Cape Town, and again, the views were absolutely astounding. It’s pretty hard to take decent photos on the top of a a bus, but I managed a few, trying my best to hold my phone steady over the rail of the top deck of the bus, whilst hold on to the camera, my rucksack and keep an eye on my iPad, which I was using to start writing this post.
Once we got back to Cape Town, this was where I started feeling the ill-effects of my butter consumption earlier in the day. I’m not supposed to eat dairy, and I know this, and yet I still insist on trying it and seeing whether it still has the same effect on me. Well, funnily enough, it did, and I ended up having to race back to our apartment pretty swiftly, so I could park my arse on a familiar loo. As soon as I did, all hell broke loose. I won’t horrify you with the gory details, but “better out than in” springs to mind. As does “natural disaster”. Heh.
Today we headed outside Cape Town to the wine region. At 10.30 am Roderik (our guide) came and picked us up from our apartment. We didn’t really want to spend the whole day drinking wine, because we aren’t upper fussed over it, so we headed to the cheetah sanctuary that the guy at the reception at the apartment had suggested we go to.
The outfit: black dungarees, jazzy shirt, frilly socks and white Nikes. Oh, and the rucksack.
I’m always a bit nervous about going to places like zoos or animal “sanctuaries”, because I worry a lot about the welfare of the animals and I can’t stand seeing the animals suffering, it breaks me. We went to Seaworld in San Diego when I was a kid (this well before the whole Blackfish thing) and even at 10 it broke my heart to see those beautiful creatures contained within concrete walls. I also remember seeing an elephant at a zoo not so long ago, swaying from left to right (just like a person rocking backwards and forwards in the foetal position), and it genuinely reduced me to tears. Seeing such intelligent and wonderful animals in such a state of clear depression – I can’t deal with it. So, I was a bit nervous about going to see the cheetah at the sanctuary.
We arrived at the sanctuary and we paid to go in and have a “cub experience”. This was where you got to go in the enclosure with the cubs (who were around 9 months old) and stroke them and sit with them for a bit. Here we met Kito and his brother. These two little guys had been born at a sanctuary a few miles away and their mother unfortunately hadn’t made it. They had been brought here and had grown up in the sanctuary. The people looking after the cheetah made is very clear that under no circumstances were we to touch their faces, tummies or tails, as this was more likely to agitate them – just like it would your domestic cat.
We had to always keep one foot planted on the ground if we were in a kneeling position, so you could move away quickly if needs be, and you were only to stroke the cheetah with a flat palm, so it didn’t tickle them. The lady who was telling us about Kito and his brother, is old us his brother was a bit agitated today and we wouldn’t be able to have any contact time with him; he kept jumping up and looking at what was going on around him and was distracted by the cars moving around outside and the comings and goings of the people. The staff let the animals get up and move around as they pleased, and we were to move out of the way if either of the animals wanted to get up, look at something or have a wander.
I was the last to stroke Kito, he’d decided he wanted to leap up and jump on a box when someone else was stroking him, so I got to stoke him whilst he was sitting up rather than laying down. After a few strokes, he started purring, and I stared talking to him (just like I do my kitties at home) and told him he was much bigger than my little cats back home. He turned around to face me and looked at me with his head cocked slightly to one side. The keeper who was standing by him said he never does that with anyone and that he must like me, which obviously made me feel like the Queen of the Cheetah, and I went out of the enclosure a very happy Bonnie.
Kito’s fur was rougher than I had imagined it was going to be, and at least I can say I have stroked a cheetah and put some money towards a sanctuary. I still hate seeing them cooped up like that, but they have been born in captivity, and it’s much better than them being someone’s pet.
After meeting Kito, we went to Spiers 1692 and went for their premium wine tasting option. This was made up of 6 wines; 2 white and 4 red. As someone who is certainly no wine conesoir, all of these wines were very pallettable, rather than tasting like vinegar.
My favourites were the Sauvignon blanc and the Pinotage, and we were soon feeling rather sozzled.
I went to the shop after and bought a bottle of the Sauv to take home with me – so, Claire, if you are reading this, please free up your schedule for my return.
The highlight of this day however, had to be when Gail walked into the glass door on our way out. It was like a slapstick comedy, and she strode straight into it and bonked her nose on it. I thought it was absolutely hilarious and I had to walk away as she recovered to save myself from laughing in her face. At this point she couldn’t see the funny side of it and was still insisting that she hadn’t seen it, rather than it being as a result of her wine intake (whatever you say mama G).
After that we went to another winery which was actually closed for renovation, but the door was open and the lady inside gave us a free glass of wine for our troubles and we met a massive dog panned Gustav. I generally don’t like dogs, but be was super chill and I even forgave him when he dribbled on me a bit.
Our final stop was another winery called Tokara which was beautifully situated and also grew its own olives.
We tasted their house wines (2 red and 2 white) and I’m not going to beat about the bush or sugarcoat matters here; they were disgusting. They practically too, the skin off of the roof of my mouth and they burnt my throat on the way down.
So, my advice; if you want a decent wine, pay for a decent wine. If you don’t want your throat to feel like it has been stripped with acid that is. Practically like Oprah aren’t I? Full of good advice.
Our flight was at 9 pm Thursday night and we landed in Cape Town on Friday at about 2.30 pm. It was an eleven hour flight to Johannesburg, a 2 hour wait at the airport there and then a 2 hour flight from Jo’burg to Cape Town. It’s weird, because we did so much flying and we are only one hour ahead in South Africa which is a bit of a mind fuck.
I watched Deadpool before I went to sleep and I actually laughed out loud at it (which is rare for me). It’s just the kind of humor I like and I love Ryan Reynolds, not even because he’s pretty, but because he is a genuinely hilarious man. I was stuck with the crappy plane headphones so I didn’t hear 100% of what was being said, so I think I will watch it again when I am back and get the full experience.
I know I slept for quite a while on the plane to SA, but I feel like I hardly slept a wink! There was a spare seat next to me, so I manged to lay down and put my feet on Gail so get comfy. Which was all well and good until she leaped up in the middle of the night with cramp in her leg and chucked me off. I managed to doze off again with my hoody on backwards and the hood up over my face, but soon the lights were up and it was time to awaken for breakfast.
After breakfast I started watching Lego Batman, which I know is super sad, but I was actually really enjoying it. But then we were landing, so I had to turn it off. Fingers crossed I’ll manage to finish that off when I am flying back.
We landed in Jo’burg, and got off the plane and went through customs. This was probably the quickest I have got through passport control in my entire life and all the staff were really happy and chatty – a complete contrast to the government employees in the UK who look like they would rather be hanging off the edge of a cliff by their finger tips with a spike shoved up their arse. Oh, and, I GOT A STAMP IN MY PASSPORT!!!! I was so excited about this, because I’ve only travelled to Europe recently and my passport is so naked. All my visas and stamps are in my passport from before, and I feel like I haven’t been anywhere cool in ages.
When we got to Cape Town, it was raining (of course it was), but we didn’t let this dampen our spirits (LOL) and we made the most of the evening we had left, and went out in the pouring rain to get some dinner.
I had butternut soup to start which was all kinds of yummy and snoek (which is a type of fish) for my main. We trudged back to our apartment in the rain, but not before asking the somelier in the restaurant for the best wine tasting places to go to. We have a name of a guy and he is going to give us a private tour, so lord knows how that will go! So we shall see how that turns out.
Anyway, I’m shattered and I can barely see straight, and it took me way longer than it should have done to type this out. So I am going to hit the hay, or the unknown bed in the unknown apartment that will definitely be uncomfortable.
I’ve been packing for my holiday this evening. I am the WORST at packing; I’m genuinely awful at it. Once second I want to take everything with me, the next second I only want to take a pair of jeans and two t-shirts. I’m so haphazard when it comes to doing stuff like this and I’m seriously disorganised. I know it is a great idea to write out a nice list with all the things you need to take with you and then tick them off as you pack them. But, in reality, all I do is grab stuff out of drawers as I see it and hope for the best. I always, always, always forget something, but is it even a holiday if I haven’t forgotten something? Doubt it.
Packing for South Africa is a bit of a weird one, because its going to be about 23 degrees in the day, but goes down to about 9 degrees a night. So, I need stuff that is warm enough and flexible too. Fortunately most of my stuff goes together so I don’t have to worry too much about taking “outfits” (another win for the lazy person). Pretty much everything that I have packed, I can mix and match, so I can breathe a sigh of relief. And if a chill sets in, I’ll just have to wear 2 of everything so I have layers.
Anyway, I shoved everything in my suitcase and tried to close it. Obviously it didn’t close, no matter how hard I squished down the top and grappled with the zip. I didn’t want to fight too hard with my case, because it is new and it would be a bit insane to push it to breaking point on its first official outing. FYI I love my new suitcases. I got a voucher from work for my birthday for Debenhams, so I used the money to treat myself to a new set of luggage. My old suitcase was super heavy, and it was basically my entire luggage allowance without any clothes in it. So, I treated myself to some bronzey/rose goldy coloured Tripp suitcases. My eyes turn into love-hearts each time I look at them – they are the stuff of dreams.
But anyway, I turned it upside down (the case) and emptied it all out and made an effort to fold things and place them in, rather than throwing my clothes in and hoping for the best. My method still wasn’t really working here, and I was somehow managing to leave loads of gaps in between things, and more things were at an angle than I would have liked.
I emptied everything out again and made a very conscious effort to do it properly this time, because you can only do things three times before you give up and just accept that it can’t happen. I properly fold everything; really, super neatly (which takes aaaaaaaaaages) and place it all nicely in my case with some thought about how best to use the space. It was kind of like Tetris but with clothes, and less fun. Eventually I managed to fit everything in and my case zipped shut like a dream, and I only had to encourage it to close a teeny weeny bit.
I heaved my case of the bed (not going to lie, I was breaking a sweat by this point) and I went off to find the mini weighing things you use to see how heavy your case is. The moment of truth: I clipped the mini weighing thing to the handle of my case. I waited for it to turn on and have a small malfunction before I lifted it up and took the weight of my case. Taking the strain, I lifted my case up and watched the number creep up to a grand total of… 16 kilos?! Wow. That’s super light! I thought it was going to be near to the limit if I’m honest. I could pack a few “just in case” bricks and still be under the 23 kilo limit.
Because it is so under weight, I feel like I must have forgotten something. Like, something major. Pants? Or shoes? Who knows… But I guess we will find out! I’ve got a few bits out to take with me on the flight as well, a couple of books and… Well, that’s it really. But I’m sure I’ll manage to get the rest of the stuff I need out before I go, without cutting it too fine. I must remember to take all of the chargers I need – chargers are always a hard one to remember I find. And I do not want to be frantically raiding Maplin at the airport for a dodgy looking iPhone charger. Although, I have located my luggage tags, passport holder and travel wallet (which all match by the way). They are also all stamped with my initials, which makes me basically feel like the Queen, the Queen shops at Aspinal of London when they have a 20% discount right? Right??? I knew it! Always had the feeling Queensie was thrifty.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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”.
After having been in a very long relationship for a very long time, it would be safe to say that my dating experience was limited. And when I say limited, I actually mean non-existent. Until recently, I had never, ever been on a date. How mad is that – I had made it to 22 without ever having been on a date. Needless to say, I have certainly rectified that now, but it meant that I had absolutely zero idea what to expect when it came to the dating game.
After the breakup, I got myself on Tinder and started merrily swiping away. This guy was one of the very first people that messaged me on there actually, and the very first person that I went on a date with. Having no idea how to do any of this at all, I agreed to travel to Fulham to meet this guy and get a drink. Obviously, because I had never been on a date before, I had no idea what to wear and I thought that looking sexy was key. So I donned a pair of black skinny jeans, a top showing a bit of cleavage, a full face of makeup and to top the whole look off; black, high heeled, over the knee boots. Looking back, I clearly looked like a complete and utter tart, and for any of you that know a single thing about me, you will know that this look is very un-me.
I totter up to Fulham in my ridiculously high heels, thinking I am the most glamorous girl going. I get to Fulham and get a message saying he is running a bit late and asking me to walk towards him. So, I start teetering towards him in my inappropriate attire, stumbling on the odd occasion and working up quite a sweat from the exertion. I spot the guy and head towards him. Having no idea how to greet a bloke you are meeting for the first time, I blindly go in for a hug and kind of get smooshed into his armpit – winner!
After our awkward first encounter, we head to a bar for a couple of drinks. We sit outside at a table, mainly because I was so hot from all the walking in my stilts, and we get chatting. When I look back on it, this conversation was probably THE dullest conversation I have ever had. But, because I was so nervous on account of it being my first date, I don’t think I realised this guy wasn’t wowing me conversationally. The night went on and it was time for another drink. Out of pure politeness, I offered to get the next drink in, never expecting in a million years that he was going to take me up on it. But, by Christ, he practically twisted my arm off for this drink, so I begrudgingly obliged.
I then spent the rest of the night feeling very hard done by, that I had somehow manged to select a man who wasn’t willing to run with the “guy pays for the first date” thing, and I spent the rest of the evening turning this over in my head. Fortunately he managed to redeem himself somewhat by walking me back to the station. On the walk back to the station, obviously I turn my ankle in my utterly ridiculous shoes and he has to catch me before I face plant into the front of a Tesco metro. I am absolutely mortified and my face goes entirely red. And obviously I get that awful sweat on, that you get when you have had a near death experience, like when you slip on a patch of ice.
We finally make it to the station in one piece and we sit and wait for my train to come along. He keeps touching my knee and I come to the realisation that this bloke is expecting a kiss. I somehow manage to avoid having to kiss him for the whole time we are waiting for my train, but, when my train arrives, utter horror ensues. I get onto the train and turn around to say goodbye, at which point he gets all up in my face with his face. He pulls me towards him for a kiss, all the while people are herding onto the train around me. I’m getting pushed and shoved as people edge round me to get to their seats, whilst I’m latched onto this blokes face. Fortunately the doors start to close and the whole ordeal is over.
It will amuse you to know, that I went on another few dates with this guy. It wasn’t until much later, that I realised that I actually really didn’t enjoy the dates or like this guy in the slightest. It just goes to show how crazy we can be when we get a bit of male attention, especially when you haven’t really experienced male attention before. I look back on this now, and I am genuinely mortified that I went on these dates and thought that’s how they should go. Thank goodness I am more date savvy now and I’m not stupid enough to offer to buy a drink on the first date. As for the boots, I don’t think I’ve worn them since.
My girl Tara invited me out on Friday night, so we did the usual; we went to Kingston… Old habits die hard right?! She’d just been dumped by perhaps the fuckiest of fuckboys, so this was prime time for her to let her hair down. Oh how I love the breakup sesh.
The outfit: burgundy dungaree dress, light pink/peach coloured tee and black clumpy boots.
The makeup: mascara, neutral tri-tone eye makeup, minimal brow, smidge of foundation, concealer and blusher.
I would normally wear trainers when I was going to Kingston, but because my outfit was already super casual I thought I would go for a proper shoe and opted for some black boots with a chunky heel. I am not ashamed to say that I wore these with a pair of cat socks (you will not change me!).
The Uber arrived and it was perhaps THE most gangsta BMW possible, complete with the driver reclined impossibly far back in the drivers seat. How he could see where he was going I will never know. But we made it to Spoons in one piece, so I shan’t complain. We get into the pub and get ourselves a drink, mines a double voddy, lime and soda and Tara’s is a double voddy and lemonade.
We assume our usual position (in front of the bar watching the dance floor) and we drink up, waiting until we feel merry enough to get on the floor. Time for a second drink, we turn round to the bar and promptly get a couple of drinks thrown all over us. WTF?! Where did that come from? Turns out, these two blokes were having an argument, one of them goes to chuck his two drinks over the other bloke and the other bloke swiftly steps out of the way and we are in the firing line. Only we could get swilled during someone else’s fight. Anyway, that descended into flying fists so we backed away and grabbed some serviettes to dry off.
Eventually drunk enough to throw some shapes on the dance floor, we head into the mass of bodies and bust out our best moves (I legit have no moves). Tara gets a Snapchat from a couple of the lads and we tell them to come on down and meet us there. So until they arrive we dance, drink, dance, repeat. The lads finally turn up and we drag them onto the dance floor (there’s a few more of them than we expected and a couple of them are army lads). We decide we need to venture to DA CLUB, but shock horror. One of them is banned from Pryzm (our usual haunt). Christ, what are we going to do? Oh my life we are going to have to go somewhere different. I don’t know if I can cope.
Apparently one of the lads is banned from Pryzm because he got into a fight. Apparently we were there. Neither of us remember it, so as far as I am concerned we have nothing to do with it. Someone decides we are going to Hippodrome, so we begin to drunkenly meander our way there, being led by a couple of army lads who have no idea where they are going. I am excellent at leading from behind.
We manage to navigate the entry and I manage to get nothing confiscated from me. I normally end up having something taken off me, be it gum or tweezers (many a pack Extra has gone to waste at the door to the club). Now, if you have ever gone to Hippodrome, you will know it it the grottiest place around. There is literally gaffa tape holding the floor together and more carpet than there should be in a club. But, the music was on point. The perfect mix of current, old school club tunes and a bit of cheese thrown into the mix. The DREAM.
We dance the night away and only venture to the smoking area for some not so fresh, fresh air, once. The photographer definitely took a group pic of us, but I can only assume we cracked the lens because it is nowhere to be seen on their Facebook page. But, however, we did manage to secure a glorious Snap of our faces, in what is my all time favorite club pic of 2K17 so far.
We stumble out of the club just before 4 in the morning and manage to squeeze our way into the chicken shop moments before it closes. We lean against the wall outside with out chicken and chips and watch multiple fights ensue, resulting in multiple arrests. Because, is it even a night out in Kingston if you don’t see someone get arrested? I certainly think not.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Jazz, jazz, jazz. I like jazz, not all the time, but a lot of the time. So I was jazzed for it when I was asked if I wanted to go to Ronnie Scott’s to see Mingus Big Band play. Having never been to a jazz club, I was pretty excited, and I had visions of a dimly lit space, frequented by jazz lovers; reclining on seats covered in red velvet.
I had to get the train straight after work, meaning I had to interview a potential candidate at the speed of light to make sure I got out in time. Fortunately we rattled through my set of interview questions pretty quickly, although, I made sure I saved time for my fave question “what would you say is your biggest failure?”… awful, aren’t I?!
As soon as we were done, I legged it out of the interview room, grabbed my rucksack and raced to the car. I drove as fast as was allowable and parked up near the station. Because I’m tight, I refuse to pay for parking, so I parked away from station, meaning a walk up the dreaded hill. I was running a little late by now, so I picked up the pace and started on up the hill. I was really running late now, so my fast walk turned into a bit of a trot and I imagine I looked like a ginger Shetland pony making its way to an evening of jazz.
I arrived at the station, grabbed my ticket and raced down the stairs in time to meet the train as it was arriving at the platform. Seated on the train, I thought it wise to make myself look somewhat presentable by putting some makeup on. Due to some recent late nights, I was sporting a bit of a panda look. I got as far as putting on a lick of mascara, before a man in an interesting fleece sat down in front of me, and proceeded to stare intently at me whilst I was coating the lashes of my left eye. That put paid to the application of makeup, so I stared out of the window instead, trying not to catch fleece mans eye.
I get off the train at Tottenham Court Road and begin to wind my way through Soho. Obviously I get lost, because if you don’t get lost in Soho, did you even go to Soho?
Eventually, after walking around in a bit of a circle, I meet Gail, Les & Co. outside Ronnie Scott’s. We go in, and it is EXACTLY how I imagined it. The lighting is low, everything is intimate, with dimly lit corners and the seats are upholstered in red velvet. It’s the best when things are exactly how you imagined them to be.
We take our seats on the lower level, right in front of the stage. I quickly nab the seat facing the stage as close to the middle as I can get (sorry, not sorry). We order some food and drinks, and at this point I must mention that the prices are a tad on the high side. I had a cocktail called a Watermelon Man, which, surprise, surprise, had watermelon in. This cost £11 (ouch) and I had the cheapest thing on the menu what wasn’t a burger, which was tofu, at £17.50 (double ouch). I know you need to expect these things to be expensive, but still, £11 for a cocktail is a killer.
Anyway, minor moan over – lets get to the music. It was SO GOOD!! I knew it was going to be good, I had never doubted it was going to be good, and yet I was still surprised at how incredible Mingus Big Band were. And to make a great night even better, the guy on alto sax was pretty easy on the eye. Oh, and he had the BEST facial expressions – I spent more time than I should have done, watching his sarcastically raised eyebrows.
I’m always in awe of anyone that can play a musical instrument (as you may know, I certainly cannot) and I love watching people do something that they so clearly enjoy. I love live music in general, and I will listen to pretty much anything, but listening to these guys (and girl) do their thing, was absolutely incredible. I enjoyed it so, so much and I will definitely be going again as soon as I can.
Take a look at what is coming up here – I might see if I can get tickets to go and see the Blues Explosion! Can’t wait!!
Having finally made it to Wisbech after it taking about twice as long as it should have done, we had some cake, opened birthday presents and engaged in some good convo (obvs, cos I was there).
We decided that tomorrow we would go to Belvoir castle in the morning, as apparently the tour is really interesting and it looks like a fairytale castle. I’m immediately interested and I’m having visions of me being the princess that I am and swooshing around the castle. So I go to bed, happy in the knowledge that I will get to be a princess the next day. Oh, and obvs we stay up until the small hours exchanging Tinder stories (as girls do).
We set off around 11 to the castle. I am driving and the sat nav says it is going to take about an hour and a half. I drive all the way there, navigating some fairly small and ridiculously fast country lanes on the way there. All goes well until the last moment, where I take a wrong turning and end up driving right up to the door of the castle like I was the Queen or something – oops! But no matter, I swing the car around, narrowly avoiding a 4×4 and making Gail flinch (haha) and head off past the castle again and down to the car park.
It was when we got to the car park that things started to go downhill. As we pulled in, it looked suspiciously empty, like, there were maybe 7 cars in there. We went to the kiosk to by tickets for the castle tour and we were told it was closed. CLOSED?! Closed on a frickin’ Saturday?! Are you actually kidding me? Oh my life, I was so annoyed. I drove an hour and a half for precisely nothing. A tantrum ensued and I went and locked myself in the toilet for 5 minutes to display my distaste for the situation.
My mum suggested we first go for lunch, before we made a decision on where to go next. We drove back towards a sign for a pub we had seen on the way here. We got to the sign, but we couldn’t see the pub. We drove round in circles for a good 5 minutes trying to locate what was clearly a fictitious pub, before I completely ran out of patience and drove away at speed. Now in a seriously bad mood, I carried on driving until a pub leaped out at me from between the trees and I violently swerved the car into the car park. All the while, everyone was apolgising for the fact that I had driven for an hour and a half for no reason.
We get inside the pub, and take a seat. Me with my diet coke, everyone else with a shandy. I lose, again. And I sit down at the table and continue to pout. I continue to pout until our food arrives (which seems to take an excessively long time to me, but hey ho). Fortunately lunch saved everyone from the torrent of abuse which was on the verge from escaping through my lips. I had a club sandwich – this is always a good choice because there are 3 slices of bread and all kinds of filling. When it comes to choosing a sandwich, stupid I am not.
After we had eaten, we decided to go to Grantham to have a look around – apparently this is where Margaret Thatcher was from, so I was expecting everyone to be dressed in a skirt suit (it won’t surprise you to know that they weren’t). This decision was made after it was suggested that we travel to another stately home for a look around. This idea was promptly rejected by Gail (thank you), because I certainly didn’t want to traipse around learning about the “well off” after the morning’s trials.
So, we get to Grantham and it doesn’t actually look that bad. A bit industrial on the outskirts, but it looked kinda cute and quaint as we got further in. We parked up (I made no attempt to reach for my purse to make payment) and we headed towards and antique shop we had seen on the way in. Georgia and I headed for the vintage clothing section in the basement for a look around. Hilariously there were some pieces made of polyester that had been made in China, that were billed as “vintage”, and there were also some very retro looking pieces in there from New Look (seriously?!).
Nonetheless, I have a laugh and don a glorious synthetic hat covered in blue flowers and team it with a fabulous blue dress and jacket combo. Stylish or what?
Eventually we make it out of the shop after seeing some weird and wonderful things, including coat pegs made out of deer hooves mounted on wood… No, I’m not kidding.
And we wandered through the town in search of a coffee shop. By this point, it is about 4pm, not an unreasonable time to be searching in the hope of finding a cup of caffeine. And search we did. We must have walked around for a good 20 or 30 minutes trying to find a coffee shop that was open. Every single place we walked past was either shut, or boarded up. Absolute nightmare. Eventually we found a place that was extortionate and dirty, and they started shutting up around us.
The long and the short of it is, don’t go to Grantham. Oh, and if anyone ever suggests you visit a castle – check the website first to see if someone is inconsiderately having a wedding that day.
I drove to Cambridgeshire this weekend, Wisbech to be more precise. I was going to see one of my friends for her birthday and Gail was in tow. The journey started off well. We made it all the way to the M25 (about 15 minutes drive) without any mishap. The second we got on to the motorway – TRAFFIC.
From this point, we literally drove at 40 miles an hour the whole way down the motorway. Where are all these people going at 2pm on a Friday afternoon?! That’s what I want to know. Can’t be anywhere interesting, can it? Wherever they are going, I’m not going to be there, so how can it be interesting? Anyway…
We get a bit of speed up as we get off the M25 and onto whatever the next motorway is. Everything is going well, roads are clear, we are laughing at all of the holiday makers with broken down cars and then BAM. Traffic. Shit. The second we enter Cambridgeshire we slow to a crawl. There is so much traffic, it is unbelievable. I don’t think we got above 30 the whole way through Cambridgeshire.
At this point I started losing my patience. I had been driving for hours and I was tired, and starting to lose my temper. If any of you have seen Ice Age (the first one), you might remember that bit where Manny the mammoth is walking against the flow of traffic and that funny animal loudly says to him “Hey! Do the world a favour. Move your issues off the road!!”. That’s what I kept saying over and over again in my head – in the voice too.
I’m not being funny, but where are all these people going? I simply refuse to believe that I am sitting in a queue of cars in Cambridgeshire due to “volume of traffic”. There aren’t even enough people in this place for each town to have a train station, let alone create this much of a traffic jam. Are they all coming here for a holiday? If they are, then I’m sorry guys, but someone sold you down the river on this one. There is literally NOTHING HERE. Unless all you want to do is reside in a field and be pestered by the local yokel, I promise you there is jack all here.
There was no accident, there was no livestock on the road… Nothing. There was nothing to see that made sitting in the traffic even remotely bearable. How can there be no reason for this?! Anyway, I was supposed to be telling you about my weekend in Wisbech, but I’ve got myself all hot under the collar now and it will have to wait until I have calmed down I think.
It was my birthday last weekend. I love my birthday! I love all of the attention, all of the fuss and all of the presents. I know it’s not fashionable to say that, and I should be all like “it’s the thought that counts”. But in real life, it’s more like “PAY ATTENTION TO ME AND GIVE ME COOL STUFF”. I’m just telling it how it is right?
I was excited as usual for my birthday, but this year I was feeling a bit funny about it. A lot of stuff has changed in my 22nd year of life and I wasn’t feeling like I was ready to leave it behind quite yet. Saying “I am 23” seems so much older and different to saying “I am 22”. I can’t really put my finger on quite what it is, but I was definitely feeling weird about it. Also, it was on a Thursday so I didn’t take the day off, because you don’t just waste a days holiday midweek.
I had to get up extra early on my birthday to go and get snacks for the office (I should have done it the night before but I’m lazy AF and I didn’t), so I didn’t even get to see my parents in the morning and open presents. WAH. But I did get some seriously good snacks, and I treated myself to my fave granola squares from Tesco – I know they sound healthy, but FYI – they really aren’t.
I get to work and my team have decorated my desk [insert grinning emoji here], so there are banners, balloons and table confetti everywhere. There are so many tiny metallic stars over my desk I think I am going to pass out from the joy. OHMIGOD!! So after basically hyperventilating because my desk looks so pretty, I spy presents. Yesssssssss!!! One of the girls got me new goggles for swimming and some super cute cat earrings. I love the earrings SO MUCH. I even went as far as to struggle around with the earrings I had in so I could change them straight away. These earrings are the bane of my life; I love them because they never fall out when you are drying your hair or whatever, but when I actually want to get them out its nigh on impossible. Before I have been so angry with them, I have been tempted to rip them out of my ears with pliers. And I would have done, if I knew where we kept the pliers.
Cat earrings are now in, and I am BUZZING. I literally bounce around the office for whole morning with a grin plastered all over my face each time someone says “happy birthday”. We go out for lunch with the work lot (I’ll tell you all about that soon) and then all of a sudden it’s time to go home. The afternoon seems to completely run away with me after that – I’m not sure where it ran to. The presents seem to follow the cat theme and I got a cat wallet (which I will be using on nights out) and a cat rucksack. I nearly passed away when I opened by cat rucksack (thank you Claire). It has a cat face and fluffy ears. ITS SO FLUFFY.
After that we went for dinner (that deserves its own post too) and much wine was consumed. It was such a good day, I had so much fun and I forgot all about my strop about turning 23. Truth be told, I do still feel a little bit funny about it, but this is definitely one of those times where it isn’t worth worrying about it because you definitely can’t change it. Unless I’m a witch or something. Am I witch? It’s a possibility… One for another day I think.
If I don’t remember it, it didn’t happen right? I feel like that’s absolutely the way to live life. Because if you don’t know what happened yourself, how can anyone else be clear on the situation? Well, they can’t can they. Can they? Crap. So I’ll tell you all about it and we’ll see what you think.
The best stories start with a work party, and this one does just that. After a day of team building and talks from various important people, we were let loose in a theme park. There is a cute little beach at Thorpe Park and my company had decked out the beach with a DJ, festival face paints, beanbags and flip flops (the literal dream). Straight away I went and got my face painted with festival glitter – because what self respecting 22 year old would let that opportunity slide?
After that we went on the rides the park had opened just for us. They had the main roller coasters open, and there is a rather glorious photo of me on Nemesis Inferno with my fringe blown back. All I’ll say is it proves why I have a fringe okay? I screamed a lot (obviously) and rendered myself rather red in the face. My mate next to me thought this was majorly hilarious and he laughed at me the whole way round on every ride. Hmmmpf.
After this, it was back to the beach for some soju spiked cocktails. The trouble with these bad boys, is that they went down hella easy. There were passion fruit ones and raspberry ones and it was basically just like drinking juice. YUMMO! After making sure we loaded our bags with free flip flops and towels, we made our way to the party in the tent. So, at this point, I’m obviously a few bevvies in, but I’m feeling fine. I drop my bag at the cloakroom and put my ticket in the back of my phone case. I’m a bit parched by now, so I make straight for the free bar. I order 2 drinks for me (voddy, lime and soda) and 2 gin and lemonades for one of the girls. I make my way back to my pals and drink a voddy on the way. I felt a bit hard done by that one of my drinks had already gone, so I kept a gin and lemonade for myself, because she would be none the wiser.
Right about now I start to dance. Like I’m properly hyper and jumping about all over the show (this is very normal by the way). I’ve leaped about to much that I’ve got a bit of a neck sweat on and I solve this by procuring a hair band from the wrist of my manager. Obviously as a result of all the leaping, I’ve worked up a thirst, so wine is required. I consume the required wine and it doesn’t quite hit the spot. Obviously another wine is required – spot hit. Now, around this point, things start to get a little blurry. I remember doing a Jaeger Bomb (I don’t like Red Bull or Jaegermeister). I remember dancing to Westlife (I don’t like Westlife). I remember making friends with a man (I don’t like making friends). I am starting to suspect I have consumed a little too much alcohol. I’m dancing with a woman from work. When I say dancing… I mean DANCING. I fear there may have been a vag touch. But onward and upwards… Or not?
BLACKOUT. I don’t remember anything from this point on. Nothing. Nil. Nada. I am told I careered outside into the garden area and lay face down in the shrubbery vomiting up the nights excess. I am told I tried to make it back inside and was found surrounded by security with someone else’s bag. I am told I was sick all over my friends legs who had come to assist me. I am told I vommed all down someones back (more fool them for carrying me I say). I am told I wasn’t allowed in the taxi – why this was, I am not sure. I am told I was located laying in the middle of the road having a nap. I was also informed that my father was called. And some say I was posted into the back of the Chelsea tractor with harsh warnings not to vom over the leather upholstery.
I believe none of it of course. I don’t remember it, therefore it didn’t happen.
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.
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.