Tag Archives: holiday

Holiday. Summer 2019

Hello. It’s been a while since my last post. Over a year in fact but I’m back now.

Our holiday this year was later in the summer than usual as Greg graduated from the University of Leeds in July and we weren’t going to miss that.

This year, we started our holiday in Los Angeles. A place we had never been to before. We were staying for a few days before continuing our adventure in Hawaii. We’d not been there either. So, full of excitement and anticipation we left for Heathrow.

We checked in our luggage and got our boarding passes, went through security with no issues and headed straight to the Virgin lounge where we indulged in good food, fine wines and cold beers.

It was while we were here that my brain had one of its primeval, fight or flight moments. The eye is drawn to movement, especially when seen out of the corner of the eye. You know the kind of thing, “Predator, food or safe?”

I noticed a movement out of the corner of my eye. My brain instantly and correctly saw this as my own reflection and of no danger whatsoever. It also, incorrectly, identified me as this:

 

Me according to my brain!

I hate my brain. For a start my belly button is an innee not an outtee!

Our flight was called and we wandered off to the gate to board. Which prompts the question of why is your boarding gate a million miles away? It is always a 15 to 20 minute walk.

We boarded the aircraft and turned left whereupon we were offered a choice between champagne or orange juice. Determined to get our moneys worth, we had champagne. We found our seats and settled down for a 10 hour flight. I can tell you now that flying business, or “Upper” as Virgin call it is no hardship at all, even for 10 hours. Your own seat that turns into a bed, plenty of leg room, more privacy, better food and movies and plenty to drink as long as you’re not stupid about it. There’s a bar if you fancy propping it up or you can have drinks brought to your seat. Fantastic!

We landed at LAX and prepared to face US Immigration.

Which turned out not to be as bad as expected. While not exactly sailing through, it didn’t take long and the staff were reasonably good humoured. What happened next however, was a bit of a problem. Our instruction were to leave the Terminal, find the black and white ‘Super Shuttle’ lollipop, announce ourselves to the member of staff there and 15 to 30 minutes later we would be on our way to our hotel. We did all that and then after about 20 minutes asked when our shuttle would arrive. We’d seen half a dozen come and go with a single person or a couple getting in. Turns out we’d been cancelled! The guy tried to resolve the issue and judging by the look on his face he was dealing with an imbecile. Eventually, after being cancelled several times, including one as our shuttle bus pulled up that caused some mutterings among us, we got on board our bus that we shared with another pair of people. We pulled into the traffic and believe me when I say traffic outside the LAX terminals is horrendous. I’m not sure how many lanes there are – 6 possibly 8, but it crawls along and every lane is absolutely heaving with cars, trucks, vans, lorries, motorcycles and buses.

Finally, we arrived at our hotel, the Andaz in West Hollywood. It was on the famous Sunset Strip, part of Sunset Boulevard and what an hotel it was. PIL nailed this. It was lovely.

We were welcomed by the staff, offered complimentary wine, that we gratefully accepted and wandered up to our rooms which were very plush.

Turns out the Andaz has quite a rock n roll history. Little Richard lived there for about 20 years. When The Doors were the house band at Whiskey a Go Go, which is a hundred yards down the road from the hotel, Jim Morrison lived there until he got chucked out for dangling off his balcony by his finger tips. Axel Rose set off the fire alarms when he decided to have a barbecue on his balcony. The two Keiths, Richards and Moon are alleged to have lobbed their TVs out of the windows of their rooms. Richard Cole, Led Zeppelins manager used to ride his motor bike in the corridors. Robert Plant, the vocalist from Led Zeppelin is also said to have screamed from his balcony, “I am a golden god”, which probably explains why they only played stadiums as they were the only venues with room for his ego!

Those days are long gone now but there are a few hints about its history dotted around.

Some of the art in the hotel lobby

The following morning after a wonderful breakfast, we all headed off in an uber to Santa Monica beach. Los Angeles covers a huge area and it took a while to get there but it was worth it. The beach is brilliant and the pier is really nice. I never realised that the famous Route 66 ended at the pier (or started depending on your viewpoint). They were filming an episode of a tv programme (911?) on the pier but it didn’t interfere with us or anyone else enjoying themselves there. We meandered up and down the pier, popped into a few shops and cafes, took photographs and generally made like tourists. We walked on the beach or rather we tippy toed across it going “ooh aah ooh aah ooh aah” ‘cos the sand was bloody hot. The sea looked very inviting but I couldn’t help but think ‘shark’ and so we decided against a swim. We figured out that Venice Beach was just down the beach aways and within walking distance, so off we went, looking forward to seeing all the cool hipsters gliding about on roller skates and skate boards. Instead we found a bit of a dump! Lots of homeless people lying under tents made from sheets of plastic, litter, tatty shops selling tatty goods. I think that’s what surprised us. We’d seen some homeless people at Santa Monica but there seemed to be an awful lot centred on Venice Beach. It was not really what we expected, especially in California. We’d all seen plenty of homeless people begging in London and some in Canterbury but the sense of despair we felt here and the numbers we saw was quite depressing. Despite this, we had an excellent time at the beach both of which were spotlessly clean.

One of my favourites photos of all three kids

 

 

One of my favourites

We took in a walking, guided tour in Griffith Park where the Hollywood sign is although you can’t get too close to it simply because there aren’t any roads or paths the public can use that lead up to it or even get close. What we did get though was an excellent guided tour, magnificent views across Los Angeles and a bit dusty. Our guide told us about the wild life to be found in the park, mostly coyotes and a huge variety of birds. She forgot to mention the rattle snakes! Not that we saw any but it would of been nice to be aware of them. Not that I’m worried about snakes, I quite like them. Apparently during the course of our walk we bumped into the actress Andie MacDowell who was walking her dog. We went to the Observatory which was cool.

Note the warning sign!!

 

It goes without saying that we had a shopping trip to Rodeo Drive. CJ was in her element and led the rush to the Louis Vuitton shop. It has to be said that the attitude of the shop staff to 5 scruffy looking Brit tourists was first class and very welcoming. If we had gone into similar shops in London looking like we did, the staff would have been looking down their collective noses at us.

CJ leading the way straight to the Louis Vuitton store.

The other very important part of our trip to Rodeo Drive was that nearby was The Cheesecake Factory! Oh goodness me! What a wonderful place this is. We had been to one in Florida and didn’t want to miss out on another visit. The menu consisted of a list of two or three mains which were jolly nice if you like burgers and fries (which we do). The rest of the menu consists of a list of about 750 million different cheesecakes . Oh joy of joys. It’s not just a pokey little portion that you get in most places. What you get is a great big fuck off slab of cheesecake! Heaven! Plus, if you can’t finish it, which is highly likely unless you’re a fat bastard, they give you a doggy box to put the left overs in to take with you. Brilliant. Heart disease in a take away box.

Mostly though, we did what we love to do and are experts in – doing bugger all. The Andaz had a roof top pool and bar where we spent some considerable time lazing about and drinking and just chilling out in the sunshine. The view from there across LA was quite incredible if somewhat hazy sometimes.

The coolest and best looking woman in the whole of Los Angeles

Art work in the hotel car park

Apart from lazing about and drink superb Californian wines we also stuffed our faces with food. Simple stuff that as tourists we were duty bound to do. We went to an ‘In n Out’ which is similar to McDonalds except they make to order rather than having stuff sitting under a hot lamp. It was rammed solid, absolutely manic in there. We loved it but unfortunately for us we were behind a coach load of Chinese tourists. 32 of the buggers I think so we had a bit of a wait but we didn’t mind. It gave the boys a chance to grab a table outside and while it was nothing special it was an experience. (As a by the by, Chinese tourists are the worlds worst. They go everywhere in groups of a million, shouting and hollering and getting in the way of everyone else. They are a complete pain in the arse! They were a bloody nuisance in Kenya last year too)

We went to Wahlburgers which is owned by the famous acting family. We had a meal at the Riot House which is the Andaz restaurant. We also went to the Saddle Ranch Chop House which was an absolute blast. Saddle Ranch knows exactly what it is – a raucous cowboy themed place just a couple of doors down from the Andaz. We loved it! It’s even got a mechanical bull there. We didn’t attempt it as I could see me either breaking a limb or vomiting all over the place. Other people did though and it was brilliant. Green Day playing American Idiot on the tv screens, noise, laughter and just a heap of people having a great time. The ribs that Ed and I had looked like they had come from episode of the Flintstones! They were huge!

 

 

 

 

 

There was a huge array of restaurants in the immediate vicinity of the hotel. There was Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Italian, Vegan, posh and not so posh. Whatever you fancied, it was catered for. Thoroughly recommend West Hollywood for food.

Eventually though it was time to go. Our Super Shuttle to take us back to LAX was booked for 3.30 am and we decided to give it until 3.40 and if it hadn’t arrived we were getting an uber! As it happened, it arrived at 3.20 and shortly afterwards we were on our way to start the next part of our adventure in the most isolated population center on the face of the earth. 2,390 miles from California; 3,850 miles from Japan; 4,900 miles from China and 5,280 miles from the Philippines.

The story of that part of our adventure will be along shortly.

Have a brilliant day wherever you may be.

More Dick soon.

auto

Holiday. Pt2

Have you ever noticed how when you’re having the time of your life, time just gallops by? So much for that Einstein bloke and his theories.

einstein1_7

We were having a great time. Le Telfair had everything we needed, swimming pools, a beautiful beach, lovely sea,

IMG-20160802-WA0021

cold beer, gorgeous food, fantastic rooms and amazing views. So much so that we had no real desire to go off exploring. We did take one trip out on a sailing boat to visit a “paradise” island. It wasn’t called Paradise Island and I’m not entirely convinced it was an island. We were taken to the East coast in a minibus. The locals drive on the right side, which is the left. In keeping with their French origins, they do like to drive in the middle of the road whenever possible though. And sometimes, they drive there even when it isn’t possible. We went aboard a beautiful catamaran. There was us lot plus about half a dozen other people. We set sail by starting the outboard motors and headed off into the Indian Ocean.

IMG-20160802-WA0026

We slobbed out at the pointy end at the front and drank beer.

IMG-20160802-WA0024

IMG-20160802-WA0025

The crew was very pleasant even if they did look like pirates. After a while the crew chucked the anchor over the side and some of the passengers went snorkelling. We didn’t. There are sharks in the Indian Ocean and we didn’t fancy becoming a meal. The crew cooked up a barbecue and we had a lovely meal of freshly caught barbecued fish and more beer. It was sublime! It was on this little voyage that I discovered exactly what I want to do for the rest of my life. I want to do nothing more than sit on the little seat at the front of a catamaran, drinking beer, sailing around the Ocean and saying nautical things like;

“Avast behind!”

or

“Shiver me timbers”

or even,

“Arrr. Jim lad.”

IMG-20160802-WA0027

Eventually, we arrived at the paradise island. We took a small boat to look at a waterfall, which was very nice.

CJ and Ed as we headed off to the waterfall.

CJ and Ed as we headed off to the waterfall.

Then we went ashore to spend a couple of hours poking about. I have to say that it was just like you imagine a Paradise Island to be with white, sandy beaches, cool seas, palm trees and a Swiss family called Robinson strolling along the beach.

This really is the island we visited.

This really is the island we visited.

That is, if you took the 3027 other people who were also visiting off the island and dumped them far out to sea. Bit of a disappointment that. We set sail again only this time we did set sail and cruised away and the incredible sense of happiness and well-being returned to us once more.

IMG-20160802-WA0029

We returned to Le Telfair just as the sun began to set.

IMG-20160802-WA0031

I don’t think I have seen us all quite so relaxed, happy and contented.

The boys decided to play another round of golf. PIL and CJ went with them after promising not to be abusive about the standard of play they were about to witness. I must say now that while Ed and Greg will never be pro golfers, they play a damned sight better than any of us could.

I decided not to go and instead sit by the pool, catch some rays, go pinker and read one of my books. I grabbed a book and made like a German and laid out towels over several sun loungers. I settled down and started to read, but not for long. The book I was reading was by a well-respected military historian named Antony Beevor and was entitled “ARDENNES 1944. HITLERS LAST GAMBLE” and it was about the Nazis attack more commonly called “The Battle of the Bulge”. After reading about 2 pages, I realised that very much like the US 101st Airborne Division in Bastogne during this campaign, I was surrounded by Germans!

A1Auqqh2taL._SL1500_

Probably not the best choice of reading material under the circumstances. I returned to my room to find another book. I had one written by the author, poet, comedian and general raving lunatic, the late Spike Milligan. He is reputed to have engraved on his gravestone “I told you I was ill”. My kind of bloke. Anyway, the book of his I had with me was entitled “ADOLF HITLER. MY PART IN HIS DOWNFALL.” Hmmmm. Probably not.

Adolf-Hitler-My-Part-in-His-Downfall-1973

In the end I took a book by Clarkson and had a jolly good browse through that while I singed around the edges. Everyone else eventually returned. Out of the 12 balls they took with them, they had 2 left but they had all had a bloody good time.

There was also a gym on site so from time to time we all took a wander down there and had a workout

IMG-20160802-WA0011

but generally all we did was chill out and relax. We walked along the beach. We indulged in good conversation. Sometimes we did both at the same time.

IMG-20160802-WA0010

All good things come to an end eventually and unfortunately, so did our holiday in Mauritius. We had an absolutely blinding time there. We loved every second of our stay. Would we go again? Absolutely. Have to save up for a while though so not anytime soon. On that note, the Rio Olympics are on TV now so I’m off to watch that. Team GB are doing well so far and we won Gold and Silver in the slalom event which was good. CJ is glued to the swimming and the Womens hockey. She wants to know why ladies netball isn’t an Olympic event especially as the mens version is.

Have a great day.

More Dick soon.

auto

Holiday

We have been away on our holidays. We flew out on Friday 15th July and got back to the UK on Wednesday 27th. Our first task on the day we left was to take Dexter to the kennels for his holiday. He went to the same place as last year to kennels in Blean. It had taken him a few days to settle down last year but this year, he settled in straight away apparently.

Dexter in the back of the car, ready to go to the kennels for his holiday

Dexter in the back of the car, ready to go to the kennels for his holiday

After dropping Dexter off, our next task was to finish packing. All we took was summer clothing, forgetting we were going South of the Equator where it is now Winter! Doh! We left early as we were flying from Heathrow, which meant travelling some distance on the M25 which can be an absolute bastard of a road.

The M25. On it's day, it can be a nightmare

The M25. On its day, it can be a nightmare

Fortunately, on this particular day it wasn’t and we arrived in plenty of time. Checked in and cleared security. We boarded the aircraft, an Airbus A340 which is not exactly the biggest of aircraft, and settled down in a packed aircraft for our 11 hour flight. We flew South East over France, along the west coast of Italy, crossed the Med, continued over Egypt and headed off over the Indian Ocean. I know this because it showed our route on the little TV screen in front of me. It was the only thing I could get to work on the somewhat antiquated In Flight Entertainment system and it was all in French. We didn’t actually see anything for 2 reasons. First, none of us had window seats. Secondly, it was dark outside and thirdly we were flying at an altitude of 9,375 metres. Eventually, we arrived at our destination – the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport and I have to say it’s the first time I have arrived at an airport that has a name bigger than the airport itself! Thankfully, the locals have abbreviated the name and call it “The Airport” because in our befuddled state of mind, we simply couldn’t handle that number of syllables. We were met by the Virgin Holidays rep and took a transfer coach to our final destination which was an hour away. We slept most of the way there. We got to our final destination, the Heritage Le Telfair, a 5 Star Golf and Spa resort and it was absolutely gorgeous. We had two suites with views across the Indian Ocean. The suites were enormous and we had one on the ground floor with its own patio area and another one directly above with a balcony. There was a brief discussion as to who went where as some members of the family didn’t want to share with others because they “snored, farted and belched”! This was quickly resolved and PIL and CJ were banished upstairs where they could fart, snore and belch to their heart’s content and us blokes could have some peace and quiet!

The view from our suite

The view from our suite

A brief history now follows. You can skip this part if you want.  The island was visited by the Arabs and Portuguese during the Middle Ages. It was uninhabited until the Dutch bumped into it and established a small colony. After eating most of the dodos living there, the Dutch cleared off. The French then settled there, stuck corks up the bums of the remaining dodos and scoffed the lot. They also used it as a base to capture British merchant ships returning from India with valuable cargos of spices and other stuff the Brits nicked from the Indian sub continent. This pissed the Brits off big time so they invaded and as usual, beat the French. It became the Empires main sugar-producing colony. It became an independent nation in 1968 and a republic in 1992. The official language is English but everyone speaks either French or Creole and English only when necessary. It is a fantastic place although we saw very little of it.

Le Telfair is absolutely wonderful. The staff, whether they be waiters, house keeping, gardeners or whatever, were fantastic. Warm and friendly and nothing ever seemed to be too much bother. IMG-20160802-WA0038

IMG-20160802-WA0015

IMG-20160802-WA0014

IMG-20160802-WA0037

IMG-20160802-WA0036

We settled down in our rooms and unpacked and then we went for a walk along the beach and a general explore of the resort. The kids also searched for more Pokemon on their phones!IMG-20160802-WA0000

We jumped into one of the pools dotted around. IMG-20160802-WA0034

We behaved like tourists on holiday and we were having a great time.IMG-20160802-WA0033

IMG-20160802-WA0032

I cannot properly describe how absolutely idyllic the place is. Within a very short time, the beach bar staff knew our usual order (3 beers, a Sprite and a diet Coke in case you’re wondering). Every evening we went for an evening meal and we had food we never dreamt we would eat. We had squid, octopus, every colour of snapper fish there is, goats cheese and every meal was fantastic.IMG-20160802-WA0018

IMG-20160802-WA0016IMG-20160802-WA0017

We had wine with our meals and the wine waiter would take the time out to explain all the different varieties of wine they had on offer (a lot), the grapes used for each type, where it came from, how special varieties were grown according to the climatic and soil conditions in each country. It was a delightful education eating and drinking here.IMG-20160802-WA0009

IMG-20160802-WA0013IMG-20160802-WA0012

On our second day, Ed and Greg went off to play a round of golf. PIL, CJ and yours truly went with them. Bear in mind that neither of them had played since our last holiday 12 months ago and they were rubbish then! Greg, however, was wearing his golf shoes and claimed he would be brilliant. Despite this claim, PIL got 9 second-hand golf balls just in case. As we arrived, the heavens opened and it poured with rain. Greg teed off at the first hole and the ball shot off into the distance. A fantastic shot if he hadn’t sliced it. The ball went off at 45 degrees to the intended direction and despite a search by us all, remains undiscovered.

Greg about to tee off. We all took cover.

Greg about to tee off. We all took cover.

Naturally, the rest of us found this incredibly funny. Greg did not though. At the second hole, his ball travelled about 60 feet from the tee. Even funnier! However, Greg now had the serious hump and despite telling him that he’d made a rod for his own back, we agreed not to laugh at him again. At the third hole, he took his tee shot and I gazed off into the distance to see where it went. I couldn’t see it so called out, “Did you see where it went mate?” Whereupon, everyone fell about laughing again because I hadn’t noticed his ball had travelled 17 feet six and three-quarter inches! Ed was equally as good! PIL, CJ and I decided then to go back to the club house so that we wouldn’t be tempted to laugh at the pair of them but also because it was chucking it down with rain. We left the two of them to it, went to the club house and had something to eat and drink.

Ed striking a golfing pose

Ed striking a golfing pose

Every now and again we would see them flailing about in the distance. IMG-20160802-WA0003IMG-20160802-WA0002

The rain continued. The half point brought them back to the club house where they rushed over to ask for some more balls! They had two left. So PIL got another 18. Just in case and off they went to do something called “The Back Nine”.

Greg. Note the shoes which were supposed to turn him into a golf ace.

Greg. Note the shoes which were supposed to turn him into a golf ace.

IMG-20160802-WA0005

IMG-20160802-WA0006

They both seemed to play much better without the unkind remarks and laughter and they did have a good time.IMG-20160802-WA0007

IMG-20160802-WA0008

Eventually, we saw them again playing the 18th and last hole. A Par 5 apparently. They were some distance away but we knew it was them because we could see one broad-shouldered figure and one very tall figure. Plus, who else but the English play golf in the pissing rain wearing only shorts and polo shirts? We decided to go out by the final hole and keep our eyes peeled for their balls as they approached. We kind of hid behind a bunker so as not to put them off. When Ed and Greg finally arrived they blamed us for having to take 6 shots to get to the green as all they could see were our three heads popping up from behind the bunker. They said we looked like a trio of “bloody meerkats”! They didn’t mention loosing another 8 balls until much later!

 

PIL, CJ and me watching Ed and Greg playing golf. Not a pretty sight!

PIL, CJ and me watching Ed and Greg playing golf. Not a pretty sight!

After that, PIL went to the Spa and had a massage and facial. The rest of us went for a massage the following day. It was bliss.

The next installment of our holiday adventures follows soon.

Have a great day.

More Dick soon.auto

 

Beard Update.

It’s gone! Shaved it off. No more beaver sanctuary. Poor old Clit Eatswood!

With the milk chocolate colour of the top of my head, the strawberry pink colour over my nose and cheekbones due to wearing sunglasses and copious quantities of factor 15 and now the pale pink lower half of my face, my head looks like it’s been carved from a large block of Neopolitan ice cream!

I look ridiculous!

Bollocks!

Never mind. We go on holiday on Friday so by the time we get back it should have  all blended in. No one will see me like this.

Except……

Thousands of people when I go into town later. Thousands more at the airport terminal. 200+ more on the aircraft we’re travelling on. Plus the hundreds of people at our holiday destination!

Bollocks!

Have a great day. Where’s my hoodie?

More Dick soon.

auto