Thursday, 24 April 2014

Adjustment Day

Maybe you're the same. Maybe it takes all of us, a while, to adapt to the rhythms of a new country. Certainly that feels like what I've been trying to do today, here in Cocoa Beach, Brevard County.

Because the thing is - it's so different. First up there's adjusting to the heat. The truth is, two minutes after stepping off the 747 at Orlando, you know all you're gonna need is your comfy shorts, a thin thin T-shirt and your shades. The rest of the stuff might as well remain, ironed and untouched at the bottom of that suitcase.

And then there's that business of the light. Same planet sure - but somehow the light is different. Brighter. And if, like me, you're a fan of cheap sunglasses, then this can magnify the difference, helping you pass each hour in new world where the predominant colours are blue, green and a fetching coral pink.

Another issue, of course, is the size of everything: I'm talking people, food and cars. See I'd forgotten just how much fun it is, to watch a big family, go to "work" on ribs and fries, and the kind of dessert that constitutes a miracle of trans-fat engineering. No wonder they kick off the evening with a round of mega margaritas.

And then there's the wildlife. And the vegetation. And what about adjusting to the national pastime - shopping? When did that one creep up on us? When did the Mall suddenly become so cool? And anyway, how many clothes does anyone need in this climate?

So today, I've been mainly trying to balance up the beauty of the sky and the sea and a semi-tropical landscape with some of the mercenary nonsense required to sell this dream.

Don't worry about me: I'm adjusting - a couple of days, a couple more cocktails and I'll be just fine.

Location:Meade Ave,Cocoa Beach,United States

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

It's The Little Things

Honestly, I thought I'd covered everything, but it's the little things that catch you out and this time it was the toll charges.

We're heading east out of Orlando on the Bee Line Expressway when the first toll appears. Not a problem - we've got dollars - loads of 'em.

Sue chucks a dollar bill into the bucket. "Fuck it" I say as said note floats off on a gentle breeze in the general direction of Cocoa Beach. Instant drama.

What now? Sadly we are left with no option, other than to stop and accost fellow drivers while simultaneously miming that we want coins for notes. Words don't capture the undignified scene of your two heroes leaping over crash barriers and generally running about Serpico style, all the while, waving dollar bills.

After repeating the same sorry spectacle at the next three toll booths, these Brits finally learn their lesson.

Get some shrapnel!

Location:Hendry Ave,Cocoa Beach,United States

Monday, 21 April 2014

An Invitation

Let me tell you Jesus wasn't the only one who rose early this weekend. No indeedy, cos Sue and I were also up and about and bound for Gatwick.

Six hours in the company of National Express, afforded us plenty of window-time to observe the Brits at play on Bank Holiday: lots of people in lycra - cycling; posh people in Pringle - golfing; poor people taking tea; others pubbing it, some clubbing it and then there were those lost souls queuing at Superstores. This still left plenty of time to contemplate the wisdom of our booking at a new hotel - The Bloc.

See this particular new, hotel may look like Stalag Luft III but it is handily situated within the South terminal - just at the end of runway two to be precise. The hotel has every feature, including a "monsoon drench shower" and a "sleep haven zone", both of which I aim to try before, deciding whether to order a nuclear strike. This would be for aesthetic, rather than practical reasons, you understand

Accentuating the positive, it has to be said that the location is absolutely great if you need retail distraction 24/7. And truth to tell we did pass a pleasant couple of hours "hanging" in the terminal a la Tom Hanks.

Anyway my real purpose in writing is to make a suggestion - if you've nothing planned for April/May, why not join us on holiday. No promises of a miracle but there is the possibility of a good time.

Check in tomorrow to find out where we are.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Ten Gigs I Would Happily Have Missed.

People love to talk about the great gigs they have attended. Well just for a change, what about the gigs you'd have been more than happy to miss: those miserable events when you'd much rather have been at home, sorting your sock drawer. Here's ten that got on my tits:

The Rolling Stones at Twickenham stadium: prior to the gig, a large group of us were sat in the pub, with the beer and conversation flowing. It was lovely and I knew the gig would never match up. Unfortunately I was right.

Jackson Browne at Hammersmith Odeon: memorable only because I briefly fell asleep. Never mind, "Take it easy", I felt like I'd taken temazepam.

AC/DC at Reading Festival: I have a vague recollection of Angus spinning on the stage like a catherine wheel, but apart from that nothing. Absolutely zilch and I was watching from the side of the stage.

Country Joe at Bulmershe College, Reading. This guy may have been a smash at Woodstock, but he counted for nothing in the Thames Valley. In my book, he was up there as one of the most miserable hippies I've had the misfortune to meet.

Van Morrison: Another happy bunny, this one with an attitude the size of Canada. Such a pity I had to suffer three miserable live gigs before learning my lesson: the lesson being that I could enjoy the man's music without having to share a venue with him.

Stevie Winwood at UEA: oh dear, rarely have I been so disappointed. The gig may well have been a technical master class, but mainly it was just plain dull.

Frank Zappa at Wembley Arena: what was I doing there? Who did I go with? What was I thinking? The highlight of the evening was leaving.

Bryan Ferry at Ipswich Regent: got a lot of time for early Roxy Music and I like some of Mr Ferry's Dylan interpretations, but in a rock'n world he conveys all the danger of a wet sock. And he's not an easy person to watch, not when every move suggests a complete lack of rhythm.

John McClaughlin, Billy Cobham, Chic Corea and Weather Report at Hammersmith Odeon: do I need to say more? If you like this stuff (and sometimes I do), my advice would be - listen to it at home.

The Bootleg Beatles: tribute acts - a crime against humanity. Ten minutes in and I wanted to shoot myself, the band and the audience.

Is there a gig you wished you'd missed?

Location:Manor Gardens,Great Yarmouth,United Kingdom

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Bill's Hideaway

Thinking back, I don't understand why we didn't look there first ......

We're in Reading on Thursday and at two minutes after eight o'clock, Sue and I arrive at Bill's for food and a catch up with friends.

Bill's, for those of you who are not familiar, is a standard chain restaurant where interestingly, they put the emphasis on the decor rather than the food. They are particularly fond of putting stuff round the walls and they like lots of exposed brickwork. I quite like it.

After a perfunctory glance round, we grab a table for six, order drinks and wait.

By 8.20, Sue is bad-mouthing the entire male population, because of their inability to turn up on time.

At 8.25 and under some pressure, I step outside to make that, "Where are you?" phone call.

Looking about as I dial, I notice a guy, inside Bill's, pick up his mobile just as my call engages. It's Geoff and he's looking at me and smiling, because he has realised, that for the best part of half an hour, we have been sitting, some eight feet away, separated by a bit of Bill's wall: and he's with Pete and Chris and they've got drinks and starters and it looks like they are already having a whale of a time.

Finally united at one table, it's all smiles, knowing we've got another precious story in the memory bag.

And here's some restaurant advice: Don't be a dick - always check behind the brick.

Location:Manor Gardens,Great Yarmouth,United Kingdom