Miscellaneous

My favourite things

This blog is completely pointless and narcissistic but I feel like I moan a lot in my posts so I thought I’d share the things I really like and give them a bit of praise.

TV Programmes

“Shut up, I win”… Modern Family is my all-time favourite TV programme

1. Modern Family
Okay, maybe I’ve praised this show enough but then again, I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of gloating about just how good this programme is. Its brilliantly observed  social commentaries, combined with impeccable writing of various types of humour make it a refreshing change from the average US sitcom. It’s already a classic and easily my all-time favourite TV programme.

2. Friends
Given the fact, I’ve spent my entire life watching re-runs of this show on E4 and now Comedy Central, it would be unfair not to have this among my favourites. Unlike Modern Family, it is a typical US sitcom, it’s just a lot funnier than the others.

3. How I Met Your Mother
Funnily enough, I was sceptical of HIMYM when I first heard of it. I assumed it would be a less-funny ode to Friends. And in all honesty, Friends is funnier but HIMYM’s interesting spin on the plot of an average US sitcom and it’s brilliant gimmicks make it stand out from the rest.

4. Desperate Housewives
I don’t even know why I liked this programme so much. It’s just so interesting, a perfect blend of drama and comedy that’s oddly relatable to every day life. At times, it is completely over-the-top and unrealistic but that can be forgiven when you consider it at its best. If you only watch one season of this show, make sure it’s season one.

Films

The force is with Star Wars… my all-time favourite films

1. Star Wars saga
Being honest, I’m not a big film person. Obviously, there are loads of films that I like but few that really stand out. Other than White Chicks and the Lion King, I struggled to think of anything that could compete with this, so it stands alone. Regrettably, I haven’t seen many of cinema’s modern classics (something I intend on correcting every summer but never do). Anyway, Star Wars is the ultimate sci-fi saga. I spent a lot of my childhood being obsessed with this franchise, meaning I have something like 20 lightsabers stored underneath my bed. It really is a great film, and yes the original trilogy is far better. It still shocks me that some people have never seen these films… and I hate them for it.

Albums

“‘Cause this is Thriller. Thriller night!”

1. Thriller
This is simply put the best album ever made. Featuring so many of MJ’s classsics including Thriller, Billie Jean, Beat It, P.Y.T., Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’, The Girl is Mine and Human Nature, you can see why it’s the biggest selling album of all-time and my favourite.

2. Aim & Ignite
Okay, Fun. burst on to the chart scene in Spring 2012, with their hit “We Are Young” taken from their second studio album, Some Nights. While, that album is superb and only just misses out on a spot in the top 5, Fun.’s lesser known predecessor is even better. It’s melodic from start to finish with brilliantly crafted songs and lyrics that really make you think. It’s a shame they didn’t get much recognition for this album too.

3. Fearless
I don’t really care about the stigma attached to picking a Taylor Swift album as one of your favourites. I have a quiet love for country music and she has a well-known talent for song writing. In all honesty, I could have selected either Speak Now or Red to join the top five too but this album is just about her best.

4. Songs About Jane
When you were young, every family had that one album that you played in the car non-stop, every journey. This was ours. It really is brilliant.

5. Rumours
Again, a worldwide recognised classic. My love for this album probably again stems back to my quiet love for country and guitar music. It features many of the bands classics and is hard not to like. Although, funnily enough when I first heard this album, I hated it.

It’s worth noting, these are also my five favourite artists. Honourable mention to S Club 7 for providing the soundtrack of my childhood and yes, I still have a cheeky  S Club party every now and then.

Holiday destinations

Bude-iful… My favourite holiday destination

1. Bude
Ideally, an average looking seaside town in Cornwall is not the place you want to go on holiday. It’s mostly for personal reasons that I’ve picked this as number-one. Nearly everyone has a holiday destination their family goes to often. Bude is that for my family.

2. Los Angeles
Most people say LA isn’t as good as it’s hyped up to be. But it really is, the climate, the people and the sights are all incredible. It’s a place you simply have to visit.

3. San Francisco
San Fran is a great city of diversity, it has such a varied nature to it, there are rural areas, coastal areas, Skegness-esque areas and big city areas. Accompanied by the climate which is great too, it’s a must visit. In fact, if it weren’t for the USA’s gun crime problem, the San Andreas fault and its proximity to Yellowstone, I’d move to California in a heartbeat.

4. Canary Islands
Particularly Gran Canaria and Tenerife, these islands are wonderful, just off the coast of Africa, it is always hot and just a great place to be.

The Myth of 2012

Unbelievably just a mere seven weeks before 21st December 2012, there are still many people fearful of  the world’s suspected demise.  Fortunately for you, I’m here to rubbish the six main apocalyptic theories for this calendar year.

1. The Bible Theory

Devilishly stupid… Hil-Rod and the anti-christ are best mates.

I know, I know. It’s hard to believe that the Bible could have any misleading prophecies whatsoever. Whilst I know we all accept the legitimacy of talking snakes, giants and spontaneously generating bread, the Bible is actually a bit shady when it comes to predicting doomsday. Rumour has it that the Earth’s entire history was encoded in the holy scriptures, the belief became prominent when it supposedly predicted that Israeli prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin would be assassinated – which happened. It may sound freaky, I know but the Bible also wrongly predicted that the world would end in 2006 due to a series of earthquakes. In fact, the theory is now so laughable that it’s most recent prediction was that the world would be destroyed due to a series of events including Barack Obama’s assassination and Hilary Clinton unleashing the anti-christ on the planet.

Chance of occurrence: 0.01%

2. The Egyptian Theory

A load of bull-ocks… The Egyptians fear a ram raid

Just like their eerie Central American counterparts, the Egyptians had their fair share of destructive predictions too. The most popular theory is that of an ancient calendar stored within  the pyramids of Gisa that ends when the galaxies align in 2012. Although, what does a calendar ending have to do with the end of the world? Another theory predicts that the world will end because Orion’s belt is expected to align with the pyramids and the great sphinx because alignment is obviously symbolic with mass death. If I’ve not convinced you that the Egyptian theories are also a tad on the silly side then please find solace in the third theory; the belief that a mythical bull will be resurrected at 10:18:13pm (Cairo time) on 21st December and supposedly charge every single person to death?

Chance of occurrence: 0.01%

3. The Galactic Superwave Theory

Wave goodbye… The planet won’t be scorched in 2012

The last galactic superwave occurred some 13,000 years ago when the Earth was in the midst of an ice age. Apparently, the wave ended the ice age and almost wiped out life on the planet. Galactic superwaves are just waves of intense heat that generate from the centre of our galaxy meaning if one were to hit us in 2012, it would be catastrophic as our solar system is predicted to align with the centre of the Milky Way this year – we’d be scorched. Fortunately, scientists aren’t in anyway convinced that a galactic superwave is due any time in the near future.

Chance of occurrence: 50%
Chance of occurrence in 2012: 1%

4. The Mother Shipton theory

Bull-ship… Mother Shipton’s been talking out of her arse.

Mother Shipton was an English prophetess who lived in the 15th century. She is credited with predicting key events in human development such as the inventions of cars, planes and tractors. However, her predictions were always vague. You would think her grossly incorrect prediction that the world would end in 1881 would be enough to see her discredited forever. But no, people are now saying her prophecy will come true some 131 years late, just because nobody would bother to question it.

Chance of occurrence: 0.000001%

5. The Super Volcano Theory

Blown out of proportion… The Yellowstone volcano could stay quiet for another 2000 years

Now, I’m not saying you should fear any of these theories, but if you are going to, let it be this one. The last super volcano eruption occurred around 74,000 years ago and as you can probably see; the world didn’t end. However, it had a catastrophic effect, wiping out around 2/3 of the world’s population but in honesty the humans of 74,000 years ago were ill-equipped for survival in comparison to nowadays. I’m not saying a super volcano’s eruption wouldn’t be disastrous  I’m saying it shouldn’t prove fatal. Many have pointed a finger toward one famous super volcano in Yellowstone National Park that is overdue an eruption. However,  it is not certain to happen any time soon with geologists suggesting that an eruption is expected between now and the year, 4000.

Chance of occurrence: 90%
Chance of occurrence in 2012: 0.05%

6. The Mayan Theory

Mischievous Mayans… just because they ran out of space on that rock, doesn’t mean we’re running out time.

Now for the one that you’ll have actually heard of; the Mayan theory. This theory derives from the apparent ending of the Mayan calendar on the 21st December 2012. Has it actually occurred to anyone that the calendar doesn’t end on that day, it just renews, starting again at 0.0.0.1. The belief that this renewal signifies the end of the world is the equivalent of believing the world will end on 31st December every single year. It seems just from the fact that the date happens to be the same as the winter solstice which links it to astronomy then it must be correct. The theory has become so mainstream due to the media’s incessant need to prey on the fears of the public and nobody seems to realise that the media does this over virtually everything. Some people have even linked the prophecy to the film based on this phenomenon. Worried people on social networking sites have been panicking because Hurricane Sandy soaked New York in October, the same month the city gets flooded in the film. But, there are a few holes to pick at here; 1) October is a window of 31 days, the fact that the flooding occured in the same months is actually as little as a chance of 1 in 12, a gross under-estimation of coincidence. 2) The likelihood of New York flooding in October is actually very likely, given the fact that October is the ending of the tropical storm season for America’s east coast. 3) The fact that New York is chosen to be splashed in the film is no surprise either, as we’ve learned from the accurate Hollywood film accounts of Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow, all disasters take place in the United States. In fact people are so obsessed with this calender that nobody even bothers to mention the other Mayan theory of the supposed cave drawings of aliens who came to warn us about the apocalypse. But let’s face it, had there been contact from aliens and had the Mayans needed to warn us of Earth’s doomsday, I can’t help but think they’d have been a little more thorough.

Chance of occurrence: 0.01%

Californian Dream (Part 4 : Dinner at Tiffany’s)

“They’re not my boogers!” – A grown woman assures me that she hasn’t been wiping boogies on the hand-rail.

To make a long story short. The journey from Los Angeles to San Diego was bloody annoying and filled with unnecessary traffic and questionable tasting Starbust. To make matters worse, we didn’t have the address of the Marriott we were supposed to be staying in. All we knew was that it was near the airport. We searched for hotels on our bitchy Sat Nav and selected the one closest to the airport or so we thought. What we actually did was drive to Terminal 2 of San Diego International airport hoping to find a hotel. Eventually, we found a Marriott near the hotel that was stunning, it was classy, had a pool and was a prime location from the city. It wasn’t ours. We had a reservation at a different Marriott the other side of the airport. Typical. However, our prior bad luck from that day had begun to change. The hotel was equally as grand and had a pool just like the other. It even had restaurants a stone throw away. That evening, we went to Oggies, which was essentially a bar. I had my reservations to be honest, I thought we’d be served shit food and have to listen to arrogant yanks spout about their American superiority as the Olympics blared in the background. But no, the food was delicious (I’d had yet another Chicken Caesar Salad, my 3rd of the holiday), the customers were fine too and our waitress, Ashley was just as helpful and lovely as the others.

American dream… Tucking in to a very large Maccies

The next day, kicked off with a bit of drama. Holly had declared that her charger was missing and that she had left it in LA. Her and my Dad went early to search for the charger in the car and were unable to find it. My sister went off in a strop in classic Holly fashion. I was then unable to find my boxers seeing as we all had to share suitcases. My Dad had arranged anything and if he found a thing out of place, he would hit the roof. Debbie went storming after them both so he could find my boxers and we could find Holly. It turned out her charger was in her suitcase the entire time, what a ridiculous human being she is. Anyway, we went down to the pool; I watched Bradley Wiggins claim gold for Team GB and went for some swimming races against my Dad. I won every time.  By that point we’d decided to head to the beach. The sandy shores of SD were far less crowded than LA. This could be due to the fact it only has a quarter of the population of the Big Orange. Although, I’d contend it was the flea-infested clumps of seaweed that put visitors off. As me and my sister made our way across the beach, a young boy accidentally flicked sand in our faces. We shrugged it off and carried on walking. To our surprise, the child’s mother had chased us down the beach, holding her son by the wrist before exclaiming “APOLOGISE TO THEM!”. The boy did so and we thanked her, although an apology was hardly necessary. If that had happened in England we probably would have been attacked by a Scummy Mummy claiming that we walked in front of her child’s sand. The rest of our beaching was uneventful; I read the rest of Alan Carr’s autobiography and invented a new game called Bounce Ball® with my Dad. Before we left the beachfront, we headed out for a late lunch… at McDonalds. I was excited to gorge myself in true American style and their fast food delights and it was just as incredible as I imagined. A large and I mean large packet of chips, a quarter pounder with cheese and a Dr. Pepper! I had always wanted to have a Dr. Pepper with my Maccies and I finally had! I now knew what they were talking about when they’d been mentioning the American Dream all these years.

Monkeying around… Orangutans at San Diego zoo

Our routine of early morning drama was continuing in San Diego, with just one day to go before we left my Dad had decided to inform me that I must endure two connecting flights home. Seeing as I hate flying I was rightfully pissed off, it even took  my Dad over 10 hours just to apologise for his poor record of informing people. I eventually got over it, at least I can now say I’ve been to Houston, Texas too. Afterwards, we slung our suitcases in the boot and hit San Diego Zoo. The zoo was brilliant; laid out expertly with a real jungle vibe. The wide array of wildlife was spectacular and the SkyFari and open-top buses provided a great views of the site. If I had two complaints and true to myself, I do. They separated the car park in to letter categories then assigned an animal that didn’t begin with said letter. H for Orangutan? Really? And of course, typically given the fact our camera had hosted many once in a lifetime pictures, my Dad went and lost it. Okay, so that’s not really the zoo’s fault but they still couldn’t fucking find it, could they?!

Scenic… Partial view of SD from the 23rd Floor

After a tiring day at the zoo, we drove to San Diego’s famous gas lamp quarter. My Dad had booked two hotels in SD and this one was even more lavish and grand as the other, 23 floors of pomp. The view from the 23rd floor was incredible, you could see a beautiful section of San Diego’s varied cityscape complete with Petco Park. We decided to arm our stomachs with some delicious strawberry frozen yoghurt and tour the gas lamp quarter and to be fair to it it was pleasant but I don’t see why it’s particularly famous, it’s certainly nothing special. For our final meal we ventured down the street to the Old Spaghetti Factory, a quaint Mexican restaurant. I’m kidding, it’s obviously an Italian. The food and decor were more than adequate but the real highlight was our waitress, Tiffany. She was like the love-child of Queen Latifah and Whoppi Goldberg complete with her own catchphrase – “Absolutely!”, followed by a wink. It might seem silly to judge her on her appearance and phrasing but she was very attentive, she was there to refill my glass with Coke before I even had a chance to ask for a top-up. She had even brought us complimentary coffees at the end of the meal. I was so taken to her I decided to tip $5 of my own money instead of just letting my Dad cover it. That night, I feel asleep reminiscing a fantastic holiday as the chirpy voices of NBC’s sports commentators put me to sleep. My American dream was over.

Random observations about the United States and Americans

  1. Toilet water is obscenely high

    America… The land of the weird and the home of the strange

  2. Taxi drivers are mental
  3. For the most part, people are incredibly polite and friendly
  4. Burritos (excluding Taco Bell’s) are delicious
  5. There are a lot of medicine adverts
  6. One Direction and Sofia Vergara are EVERYWHERE
  7. British music as a whole is very popular
  8. ‘Jay-walking’ or ‘crossing the road’ as it’s known in England is frowned upon
  9. Chat or magazine shows have a much quicker pace than in the UK
  10. Andrex is called Cottonelle
  11. Harry Potter is slowed down so Americans can understand it. Really.
  12. Petrol or gas is a third of the price
  13. There is a really cool John Cleese advert for DirectTV – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G5VDfizYnxY
  14. TK Maxx is known in the States as TJ Maxx.

Californian Dream (Part 3: The Big Orange)

“I love your hair colour, Roberta. Oh, the whole family’s gorgeous!” – A loud-mouthed ‘Brooklyner’ compliments us at Universal Studios

The prospect of entering one of the World’s most famous cities with a massive population of 3.9 million was daunting. After negotiating our way through the rush-hour traffic, we arrived in the LA district of Century City, the location of our hotel. The Marriott hotel itself was brilliant. The lobby was stunning, the staff were helpful and they even had valet parking to boot. It was as glamorous as you’d expect. My Dad and Debbie had been less keen on the idea of the city of Angels. They had been more excited by the culturally-rich San Francisco. However, me and my sister were desperate to immerse ourselves in the Big Orange and we opted to take a quick tour around the city in our car.

Modern Family… The Dunphy household on Dunleer Drive, Cheviot Hills

What immediately struck me was the variety that LA possessed; one minute you could be around corporate skyscrapers and the next in a humble, quaint housing estate all housed within the same city. The city also seemed to have a huge gay scene (I don’t mean that there were a lot of obese homosexuals), more-so than San Fran. One street was so packed with gay clubs and shops it should have been renamed Brokeback Boulevard.  Before we’d left for the hotel I had keenly searched for the location of the Modern Family houses, as you probably know I’m a massive fan of the show. I couldn’t believe my luck when one house was located within Century City itself and another in nearby Cheviot Hills. Of course, I forced a detour to both locations and wearing  an ear-to-ear smile got a snap in front of the houses. Unfortunately, my Dad has since lost the camera and I cannot share these photos with you but at least I have the memories. We then went to eat at BJ’s restaurant, a stylish restaurant complete with delicious food. It quickly became a family favourite if not for it’s excellent service but it’s opportunity for innuendo.

City Love… I ♥ Los Angeles

The next day, we were awoken by our sink backing up in the hotel. Black water was oozing from the basin. After a series of complaints to the front and a quick breakfast we hit Santa Monica beach. Following the strenuous task of finding a place to park, we settled on the beach, armed with chicken salad sandwiches from 7-Eleven. We decided to take a stroll down Santa Monica pier, which was plastered with classic sea-sidey pleasures; rollercoasters, candy floss and souvenir shops. However, the best sight on the pier was our first and only celebrity spotting of the trip, Modern Family’s Rico Rodriguez. What are the chances? A hotel in the same district as the Modern Family houses and a spotting of one of the cast members on the pier?  Unfortunately, I couldn’t get a picture with him, he was with his family who had formed a turtle formation around him. However, my Dad managed to pap him and told me that he watched me and my sister have our photo taken as if it were some sort of creepy consolation. The rest of the day on the beach mainly involved playing volleyball and reading Alan Carr’s autiobiography whilst skewed on the golden sands. Afterwards, we went for a walk down Venice Beach, I bought an ‘I ♥ LA’ t-shirt, only the second city to receive that honour (after Leicester). That night, we once again frequented BJ’s and for the second night running I had their delicious Mango Chicken Salad, which is odd for me because I usually hate salads.

Hollywood… The famous hillside sign

On Monday, we drove the 5 mile distance to Universal Studios. We arrived just after 9am so as to beat the crowds. In hindsight, it wasn’t necessary seeing as we had front of the line passes. The place is fantastic. They have water spray stations able to cool you in the blistering heat, complimentary Brooklyners leaning out of windows, one of which called my family ‘gorgeous’, a waxwork of Vin Diesel that my sister enjoyed and the cheesiest souvenir shops you could wish for. Naturally, my thrill-seeking Dad and Holly were desperate to get on the rides so they did whilst my pasty skin frazzled in the sun. I used to like rollercoasters but I’ve since been deterred following  a near-death experience at Drayton Manor, but that’s a different story. In fact, I did brave 3 rides during our visit; The Simpsons 3D, Shrek 4D and even the Jurassic Park water ride which is the most exhilarating log flume I’ve ever been on. Other than the dino drop, I was there for the back-lot studio tour. It was incredibly insightful. The tram took you around many iconic sets, props and stages from a simulated earthquake in a subway to a recreation of Jaws in the town of Amityville. Of course, I was most excited to arrive on Wisteria Lane, and it was spectacular, just as pristine as on the box. Within the last three days, I had visited the homes of Modern Family, met Manny Delgado and been to Wisteria Lane. LA was shaping up to be the perfect city.

Bright lights bigger city… Night-time view from Santa Monica pier

Our final day was twinged with a bit of sadness for me. I woke to find my iPod of 18 months unresponsive on the bed-side table and the Apple store staff unable to save her. We grabbed a croissant, I sat sullen remembering the life of my digital pal until I was inadvertently distracting by an upcoming actress discussing scripts with her agents, unfortunately we didn’t catch a name of someone who is sure to be a rising star. We then made the journey to Tinseltown!  Oddly enough there is something quite satisfying about having your picture taken with a celebrity’s name that’s been stencilled on to a path. From Ed O’Neill to Felicity Huffman, I had my snap taken with all my favourite stars. Better yet, I discovered my hands and feet were the exact same size as the great king of pop, Michael Jackson! Okay, I may have jumped the gun there – the best part of the day was an unexpected compliment from an LA local who said ‘that’s a very cool shirt, dude!” referring to the Leicester City shirt I was proudly donning. On the way out of the city, we stopped by Johnny Depp’s house for my sister. His street is a winding street just off a main road, cleverly secluded by high trees. The houses there were fantastic but we were clearly not welcome. The road was a dead-end and there were even bouncers glaring at us from a driveway as we tried to sneak a peek at one of Hollywood’s A-List pads. Further down that road we encountered our first ‘insane’ American, a homeless man seemingly blaming Jennifer Aniston for life’s shortcomings. LA was  fantastic and when I left for San Diego that afternoon, I did so with a heavy heart. Could ‘America’s finest city’ compete with La La Land?

Blame… Jennifer Aniston is the leading cause of homelessness.

Californian Dream (Part 2: Journey South)

“If you want your birthday cake, you’ll have to do a birthday shake! WOOO!” – Enthusiastic staff goad a customer in to dancing

On Thursday morning, my Dad pulled up outside the hotel in a rented Lincoln. No, he wasn’t driving a shit English city or a founding father, it was actually just a normal car.  We forced our bulky cases in to the boot and off we went on our travels. The distance between San Francisco and Los Angeles is a colossal 381 miles, so an over night stop was necessary. My Dad and Debbie were keen to take the scenic drive, which basically meant enduring an added 2 hours on to our trip, which was made significantly more difficult by a snippy Sat Nav who rudely declared that her application did ‘not support British English’, the cyber bitch!

Anyway, we were on the road, with the shorter leg of 103 miles to Monterey to contend with. Initially, we sat back, enjoyed the scenery and eachother’s company. Quickly, we resorted to plugging in our iPods and relentlessly requesting service station stops. After about 45 minutes, we pulled up at Taco Bell,  a famous American fast food chain. I was quite excited to sample the States take on Mexican fast food. You can imagine my disappoint, when the Central American treat I was served tasted less like a spicy, flavoursome burrito and more like a mushy pile of minced beef that had been soaked in dishwater and wrapped in a bit of scrap paper. Although, the food was a let down, I was becoming very accustomed to the States generous policy of free refills wherever you went. Pepsi galore for the road ahead.

Poor show… My first and last Taco Bell

For the most part, the drive was full of inspiring scenery; scorched, yellow grass and poor towns. That was until we reached Santa Cruz, which is quite simply fantastic. A moderately-sized town with some stunning houses. Santa Cruz was a genuine delight to behold and although we only drove through it, it was rightly deemed the pinnacle of Central California. Monterey would simply not compare. In fact, Monterey was a bit of a shithole. My impressions of it were perhaps not helped by the fact we had endured a perilously dull journey only to be shacked up in a shitty Travelodge. Honestly, I didn’t care that we were staying in a motel in the middle of an American ghetto, I had needed a wee for an hour before we arrived and my bladder was pulsating more violently than an overly-loud stereo. We hastily dumped our luggage, eager to spend as little time in the hotel room as possible and we hit the town. We settled on eating at Bubba Gump’s, an American seafood chain, based on  the film, Forrest Gump. The staff were enthusiastic and all sang acapella for whoever’s birthday it was. The restaurant was so cheesy, there was even an obligatory Forrest Gump trivia quiz. Seriously. The food and atmosphere were both enjoyable and lifted our spirits before we returned to the Travelodge. Oh, on the way back we saw some motorbikes, a lot actually. They were thoroughly uninteresting. We all went straight to sleep bar me. I couldn’t get a wink as I was ambushed with an attack of acid reflux so I stayed up looking on proudly at NBC’s coverage of the Olympics’ opening ceremony until the early hours of the morning.

By 6am the next day, we had checked out and were ready to grab breakfast and head off. Fortunately, the second stint of our drive was much more scenic yet stressful. Dad had opted against popular opinion to pay a $10 entrance fee to access the 17-mile-drive through the neighbouring town of Carmel. The drive was beautiful albeit repetitive, I mean if you’ve seen one tree, you’ve seen them all. It wasn’t as spectacular as my Dad was trying to make out, that came later and it certainly didn’t merit the 42 minutes of film that is now lodged in my camera thanks to Debbie.

The Big Sur… The mountain-top café

The scenery gradually became more and more breath-taking as we approached the Big Sur, famed for it’s vast rolling hills and proximity to the pacific ocean. The contrast of the two was formidable and prompted a stop at an opportunistically placed café nestled in the mountainside showing a stunningly picturesque view of both aspects. Accompanied by a hot chocolate and the surprise appearance of a hummingbird, this stop was the most relaxing moment of what had been a very testing trip. To be honest, the subsequent drive down to La La Land was bloody terrifying. I’m well aware that I’m a bit of a wuss but I’m fairly certain most people would be terrified of driving on a windy clifftop road entrenched in fog with your Dad turning away from the wheel to gawp at every boulder we passed. We then came across a group of elephant seals bathing in the sun on a sandy beach, we liberally stretched our schedule to make time to observe these magnificent beasts.

We made one last stop before we reached our final destination,  an In & Out Burger restaurant in Santa Barbara, the city where Michael Jackson took former residence. The burger was delicious; fresh, crisp and meaty. It was made even the more better due to the golden rays of the sun coating the lush palm trees of the American riviera. We then continued on our journey, we hit Malibu and suddenly we could smell the Hollywood air. The land of the rich and famous was dawning. We had arrived in Tinseltown.

Wildlife… Hummingbirds and Elephant Seals

Californian Dream (Part 1: The Golden Gate City)

“DWAYNE?! DWAYNE?!” – A confused waiter hollering a seemingly absent customer

After nearly 12 years of build-up, my sister and I were finally given the American experience we had been promised by our Dad every year since we were toddlers. It’s probably fair to say that California is a dream location for many when picking a summer holiday and that is true of my family. All four of us; myself, my sister Holly, my Dad and his girlfriend Debbie were anxious and excited to experience the famed Golden coast and it was certainly an interesting experience…

On the night of the 24th July, the day before our flight I accumulated a total of 0 hours sleep. I have an irrational fear of flying and I was definitely not savouring the daunting prospect of an 11 hour trip across the Atlantic ocean.  The customary airport formalities went off without a hitch and before I knew it, I was strapped against my will in a steel cage of death precariously hovering over a pool of hungry sharks. Fortunately, my initial terror subsided and was quickly replaced by uncontrollable boredom. There’s only so many crossword puzzles you can do before you start to evaluate the worth of your existence. However, I shouldn’t moan, I caught up on a bit of lost sleep and even enjoyed a couple of films on the journey.

We arrived in San Francisco, full of excitement. Dad had warned us that San Fran would be significantly cooler than our later stops in LA and San Diego but following the tumultuous rain we’d had back in England, a temperature of 22°c was nothing to complain about. We swiftly checked in at the Hilton and went off to absorb the delights of  the city’s Fisherman’s Wharf area, which can only be described as Skegness Deluxe. That may make it sound like a shithole, but the whole area had a charm about it that made it my favourite part of America’s fog city.

Otis…Sitting on the dock of the bay, wasting time.

The next morning, we awoke at 6am. Our bodies had seemingly failed to adjust to the eight hour time difference with old Blighty and by 8am we were out on the town. You’d think having been up so early we’d have been able to grab a swift breakfast and dive right in to the many sights and sounds San Fran had to offer. But no. In fact, we hadn’t decided on a café to grab breakfast in until 10am. Although our indecisiveness was initially frustrating, our choice to eat at Boudin was perhaps one of the best of our entire holiday. My Dad went up to order our breakfasts. An order of three traditional breakfasts and one granola and yoghurt. However, being the socially awkward person he is my Dad actually asked for three traditional breakfasts to be smothered in granola and yoghurt. The cashier, rightly confused sought the help of her manager and any misunderstanding was quickly rectified. My father then gave his name, Whiting which he politely spelled out for her so she could call our name when our order was ready for collection. I stood with my Dad to collect the food and Debbie and Holly went to wait for our coffees. About 10 minutes passed and our names still hadn’t been called. Others who had ordered after us had come and gone with their food whilst we were still waiting. At both counters a man named ‘Dwayne’ was being summoned loudly by the staff to collect his food and coffees. After about 5 minutes, it dawned on my Dad that ‘Dwayne’ was not coming and his order was in fact ours. The cashier had mistaken the name ‘Whiting’ as ‘Twaing’. As you can imagine, we were in genuine hysterics as we sat outside and loudly scoffed on our granola-free bacon and eggs.

With our bellies full of fried goods, we set off to view the heart and soul of San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge, which stood ominously in the fog-drenched distance. We set off on the obligatory six mile walk, stopping for snacks at a local supermarket on the way. The Golden Gate Bridge was magnificent. It was majestic and bustling with tourists. Perhaps, it didn’t live up to its hype but essentially it is just two red poles sticking out of the sea. We then caught a bus in the hope of viewing Golden Gate Park which was surprisingly a trek and a half from the city’s infamous bridge. Buses in America are weird. They’re crowded, dirty and full of questionable individuals. A bit like a mobile shanty town. Anyway, we were absolutely shot after such a long day on our feet and we ended up ambling for twenty minutes before succumbing to a sit down and a mouth-watering hot dog.

San Fran-tastic… The Golden Gate Bridge

In fact, food would become a focal point for the rest of our stay in Frisco. The weather was often overcast and cool and with a dauntingly tall city centre and no chance of visiting Alcatraz to look forward to, the morning croissants from Starbucks were quickly becoming a highlight. In fact, San Francisco boasted several brilliant eateries; The Fog City Diner, a classic American diner that did the classic British dish of fish & chips more than justice. Boudin, also got a second visit from us, this time so we could try Fisherman’s Wharf’s infamous clam chowder which was very tasty. A whole host of lovely restaurants are also homed on the vibrant Pier 39, which again had a classic seaside feel to it.

Fox City… Leicester scarf in San Francisco

Our last full day in San Fran arrived and we were anxious to explore the inner city areas; Market Street, China Town and all that jazz. We hopped on a cable car, and when I say hop, I mean stand wedged in a queue for an hour between a chirpy puppy and an obese racist in the Northern Californian drizzle. My Dad decided it would be an excellent idea to stand holding on to the side of the cars as we whizzed through the streets of Frisco. Initially, I wanted to just sit like a normal person but that would have robbed me the pleasure of spotting San Fran’s very own ‘Filbert Street’, which obviously brought a smile to my face. We arrived in the centre of the city and following some initial awe at the sheer size of it’s skyline, the rest of the day was a bit shit and involved a lot of walking back to the hotel. That night, we returned to Fisherman’s Wharf, and I fell further in love with the place due to the fact I saw a Leicester City scarf proudly draping from the ceiling of one of the shops. You can take the boy out of Leicester… the next day, we were on the move. It wouldn’t be as easy as going by foot or air. This time,  we were going by road…

Room 101

A twiend of mine recommended that I do a blog on my nominations for Room 101. So after some intense whittling down of candidates here are my magic fifteen. (P.S. This is dedicated to Nicole)

1. Scream Mask

Image

Petrified… My heart was racing whilst I searched for this on Google

This might seem like a strange one but my first nomination for Room 101 comes in the form of the most chilling mask to ever exist. It’s a completely irrational fear of mine but it’s safe to say I am genuinely terrified of this mask. I’m so afraid in fact that there is a good chance come October 31st, I will refuse you any treat whatsoever if you don this haunting persona. I’m even quaking with fear at the thought of this daunting face appearing before me as I write this at 12:21am.

2. Chris Moyles (on TV only)

Image

Shut up… Even Babs thinks Chris Moyles is a twat.

Again, this will probably seem an odd choice. I know that old Moylesy is quite popular on his hit Radio 1 breakfast show and I won’t begrudge him that. In fact, I find him most tolerable when his voice commands the airwaves. It’s only when my Leeds-supporting namesake makes the switch to television that his insufferable nature becomes apparent. Much like how a child might change around the popular kids. Moyles seems to fall under the disillusion that he’s the funniest man in existence every time he appears on the box and to make matters worse, his warm charm often apparent on the airwaves seems deeply contained by his revolting, four-chinned face.

3. People who open my fridge without asking

Image

Closed… The way a fridge should be.

Honestly, what is this fuckery? You cannot just go in to someone’s home and open their fridge. It’s like going in to someone’s church to borrow their bible. I mean, by all means if I invite you to have a look in my fridge then go ahead. But if you feast your eyes on my stashes of Coca-Cola, Frubes and Galaxy chocolate without prior permission then God help you.

4. Internet celebrities

Image

Leave the internet alone… Chris Crocker cries for Britney.

These people are simply hideous on the inside. Now, when I say Internet celebrities, I am talking about everything from your gossip-fuelled bitches like Perez Hilton to your vein, conceited wannabes like Olly Riley. Basically, these people are famous for smacking keyboards or being attractive. They are usually conceited and driven by their own putrid desire to be famous for nothing. Olly Riley and Nick Lowe are usually found regurgitating motivational quotes then responding with vitriol of the homophobic nature to their ‘haters’. Let’s be honest, internet celebrities serve only one purpose – to be hated. God bless, Olly Riley for making that so damn easy.

5. Homophobes, racists and sexists

God hates fags… He also said you’re not allowed to get your hair cut

I shouldn’t even need to say anything . These people are the scum of the earth. You can often find them in the deep south of the States, usually sucking on the corners of a double-barrel shotgun.

6. Kingston-upon-Hull

Censored… Hull is a shithole, that’s why he came home.

Now, I’m not trying to say that people from Hull aren’t as smashing as the rest of the folk (Nottingham excluded) found in Great Britain. But unfortunately, their city is literally an urban skip, I mean how bad can a place be that it actually has a Twitter account dedicated to finding tweets insulting its appearance? I had the unfortunate chore of visiting the Humberside settlement last December and I felt as if I was visiting the rubble of Hiroshima on magic mushrooms. Hull is old-fashioned; not in the cool vintage way but in the practically Amish way. Obviously, every English city has it’s good parts and bad parts. It’s just that Hull’s good parts make Luton look like Rome.

7. Owls

Creepy… Even Hedwig cannot redeem these winged wankers.

These things are the second most evil animal to walk (fly) the face of this earth. Their creepy head rotation and frying pan stare is enough to send chills down anyone’s spine. Forget, bald eagles. The owl is the menace of the sky.

8. Facebook

Drama… Facebook has become Jeremy Kyle’s utopia.

Here comes part deux of my internet snobbery; Nomination number eight is that of social-networking giant, Facebook. It’s fair to say, I was once a keen Facebooker, back in 2010 before it experienced a massive decline thanks to the rising popularity of the far superior, Twitter. However, Facebook is now synonymous with three things; chavs, wannabes and moaning teenagers. I’m not saying, Facebook doesn’t have it’s practicalities but let’s just say if I was given the choice now, I would not become a fan. In fact, I’d stick to the new social-networking site, I now ‘follow’.

9. Being wrongly accused

I can’t even put a funny spin on this… It’s just so annoying. My ultimate gear-grinder.

10. Nottingham Forest

Shit badge… We all know it’s the back of an old lady’s head and her shoulder blades.

22.1 miles due north of my beloved Leicester City, lurks a hideous disease under the guise of Nottingham Forest Football Club. If delusion had a physical state it would manifest itself as one of the vile trees, I am subjected to on Twitter. If you follow me, you are probably well aware that I don’t like Forest fans and Forest fans don’t like me. My reasoning is that my beloved gunslingers up the A46 are arrogance personified. Whoop-de-fucking-doo, you’ve had two years of success. Well, guess what, this one time I trended on Twitter, does that make me permanently famous? No, it doesn’t. The under-educated Shottingham inhabitants seem to have trouble grasping this concept but are more than happy to bring it up 24/7. In fact, if any of you have the misfortune of bumping in to the inbreds from Robin Hood-shire, sling a history book their way – It’s their favourite past-time.

11. Bananas & Raspberries

Raspberries… Like strawberries except with absolutely no positives whatsoever.

The Hitler and Stalin of fruits. I’ve only ever had the experience of each of these two ‘fruits’ raping my taste buds once and I’m thrilled to say, I’ve never had to go back. I do genuinely struggle to find any redeeming factor from either of these two. The banana is a putrid yellow mess with an utterly revolting texture that should only ever be visible wearing pyjamas on children’s television. Whereas, raspberries are little pink grenades of poison that ignite a quite frankly violent gag reflex from me. Give me, vomit fruit over either of these any day of the week.

12. American Flag – English language

We are not amused… America takes credit for someone else’s work…again.

An annoyance of patriotic influence coming through now – The use of the American flag on a language selector when referring to English. I would first like  to take this opportunity to say that I have no intention of trashing our backwards Transatlantic cousins but the language is quite clearly property of old Blighty. It doesn’t even make sense for the flag of the United States to be used. Granted, there are more English speakers there but, it’s bloody called ENGLISH. You wouldn’t describe ‘Don’t Stop Believin” as a Glee song ahead of Journey just because it charted higher than the original would you? No is the correct answer.

13. Peter Andre’s reality TV shows

Fame whore… Peter still doesn’t know what he wants to be when he grows up.

There’s overkill and then there’s Peter Andre. It’s probably fair to say, Peter Andre is for the most part, a  very popular man among the British public (particularly with those at ITV2). He’s had a highly-publicised marriage with airhead, Katie Price, as well as an at best mediocre pop career. However, Peter’s biggest flaw is his inability to know when to call it a day. Since 2008, Andre has had FIVE reality TV shows, all on ITV2 from ‘Going it Alone’ to ‘Here 2 Help’. I’m sorry, but who in their right mind would want to watch a 30-something has-been help  a random member of the public fix their boiler? Like, I said – Overkill would  be a massive understatement.

14. Leopard seals

Smug… Leopard seals are self-satisfied shag rats.

These creatures are runts with a capital ‘C’. These floppy, damp blobs of death screech evil in every way from their predatory nature to their icy, yellow stare. I’m all for animal rights. In fact, I have adopted several endangered wild animals but not these nasty bastards. They should make like a dodo and fuck off.

15. Beliebers

Vermin… Beliebers are the rats of the internet and Bieber fever is the bubonic plague.

Interestingly enough, the Random List Generator I used to order my 15 nominations left these turds until last and it was a mighty fine choice indeed. Next to the fans of Notts Forest, there is not a single more irritating group of individuals on the planet. It’s probably apparent to you that these (usually) pre-pubescent scumbags frequent to hijack Twitter trends on a daily basis, with the sole purpose of thrusting their odd obsession in to the faces of the masses. Unfortunately, these twerps seem unable to grasp the fact that their abrasiveness actually generates hate for the thoroughly likable person they claim to ‘idolise’, when he has done little wrong. Also, many of them think Justin Bieber is on the same level as the great King of Pop, Michael Jackson despite Biebs current total of 0 number-one singles…