Category Archives: America

Florida – non-parks fun

Medieval Times – we had a hilarious evening here supporting the Yellow Knight for the evening in a medieval tournament set inside the walls of the King’s 11th century style castle – sadly we were not able to choose the colour we wanted to support – as clearly this would NOT have been mine! On top of the regular cost of the entertainment and meal we upgraded, I managed to cleverly do a bit of research and found a free upgrade to bing a VIP Royal for the evening. Was it worth the extra buck – Id say definitly. We had preferred seating – in the second row with further supporting materials other than the paper crown that we all wore for the duration of the evening. 

As with everything in America they try and sell you so much other stuff as well before and after going in as well as during. Anything Mediaeval Times could pretty much put some branding on was available. Its ok I didn’t succumb to this HARD sell, just went rebound trying on loads of the hats with the kids and taking photos and selfies! (OK perhaps not strictly true as I did buy the group photo of us all taken at the start of the evening as it is actually really lovely). 

The evening involves watching jousting and combat battle between 6 differently coloured knights on valiant horses, all of whose supporters were seated in the same section of the arena to help build the noice and support of their warrior in the battle we were about to see. There was a bit of a story about them all wanting the hand of the Princess, the daughter of the King. The horses were pretty amazing, similar in style to those from the SPanish Riding School I once remember visiting in Vienna when I went to see Tom, golly, probably about 13 or 14 years ago now! So clever and yet also pretty dainty and such skill of the riders/trainers.

I wont lie, I enjoyed being referred to as M’Lady when offered food or drink or anything and when I thanked the serfs and wenches that were looking after us for the evening. It was all part of the environment of the evening – as was eating entirely with your hands. All pretty easy food to eat with hands and actually pretty tasty considering how often this meal is rolled out to the tourists and residents alike night after night, day after day. First up was a warm Tomato Bisque Soup served with Garlic bread in a metal bowl with a handle on the side followed by Oven roasted chicken (half of one – ??!!) herb-based potato and corn on the cob with a delicious Lemon cake for pudding (pastry of the castle). There was a full-service bar at which I might have had a pint or two – help lubricate the vocal chords for shouting for my Knight in yellow! 

It was all in all confirmed to be a huge success by all ages. The kids really enjoyed it and were all able to eat the food – granted not all of it but then it was a meal for for a King (boom, boom!) Did the Yellow Knight win – sadly not – it was of course the blue Knight, which would of course have been the chosen colour had it have been up to me. Did it matter that ‘ours’ did it win? Not in the slightest, a wonderfully amusing evening and something so totally different to Disney which we will be inundated with bin just a few days.

Boggy Creek Air Boat Ride –  The Everglades are best explored on an air boat. Of course there are a mass of different places that this can be done. The first place that I tried looking was sadly booked out already for the day that we wanted as I had checked online for reservations and so we went ahead and tried a place called Boggy Creek out – what a name 🙂 It also had 10% discount on the cost with the presentation of the guide book that I have (Brit Guide) at the desk – originally left in the car but quickly retrieved. Book had already paid for itself!

OH MY DAYS IT WAS HOT! There were a few things to look at in the smallish park but I opted for a walk around a couple of times pausing infront and then perching in the shade as I was ‘glowing’ like mad! 

By the time that we were out there it was 1115 and the sun was making it really quite toasty and unsurprisingly the hotter it is, the more likely we were not to see any as they would retreat deeper under the water to the cooler water to loiter and keep cool. We did however see two aligators, one biggie and one that was about 3ft and so 3 years old. We were very lucky. There was apparently an American Bald Headed Eagle which most people managed to see after several careful instructions from Captain Chris, but Im blown if I could see the darned thing. I took a photo of the general direction in which he was pointing and the descriptions were aimed at in the vain hope that I might be able to see it more easily on a print out!! 

The scenery was simply beautiful and we went straight through some pretty high reeds and so on which was at times a little unnerving as I sat thinking, how the hell does he know he’s not going to get caught up in this? The trees were mesmerising, cypress trees, very eerie looking and spikes roots which is where they get their carbon dioxide from & hanging down from them was a lot of the SPanish Moss which apparently Henry Ford first thought of using this (and did) to stuff the car seats in his first cars, before realising quite how many bugs and creepies lived in it and so had to recall and think again! 


After this we decided that an ice-cream was an order of the day and in fact probably some lunch as well and we headed to MacDonalds. I made careful choices, owing to Fat CLub, would hav loved MASSIVE chips and Quarter Pounder with cheese with a HUGE drink. But i spent a while taking in all of the calories as they have them next to all the foods here (though, by the looks of the clientele in this particular branch – none of them took any notice. It even had in it a rather large chap, to put it mildly, with his own oxygen tank by the side of him and the pipes to his nose). Felt proud of myself – I could also see that I really would not be doing that much more walking today and so wasnt going to hit my 10k step target – way way too hot for that already and we still had one stop left on the visit before heading home. The food in the bellies and the sweet icecreams (for them NOT me – god Im feeling so good) led the kids to all fall asleep in the car on the way to out final port of call. Light snoring heard from Keira and Emily dribbling away – bless them! The peace for the 20 mins was very welcomed! 

Wild Florida – Arrived here just after what must have been a down pour as the cars in the carpark were all pretty wet but not the ground. The boat rides, that were all fully booked, were on hold as there was a lot of rumbling thunder around and so the potential of a storm coming, thankfully it never arrived (while we were in the park anyway), maybe that was why we were all literally dripping with sweat. The heat didnt feel too intense, it was the humidity that was killing us all. 

​​

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More Texas Ranging

SO I have had an exhausting few days.

NASA was visited on Thursday which was a 10 hour round trip. It was blooming hot but I am glad that I went. It was funny; it started to spit with rain as I was coming into Huston again. Typical I thought! I got to see the last space ship (or part of it) that went to space and came back (was it Apollo 17 - you can tell I took it all in really well!) I touched a lunar rock and saw loads of other mock ups of space ships that astronauts train on before they head up to space. I was hoping to see where the rockets blast off from - even if from a distance but didn’t.

I then went to Sea World in San Antonio on Friday for the day. My god doing a theme park in 106 degree heat is REALLY not that much fun. As most of the kids are back at school though I was lucky as I didn’t have to queue for rides and I got to go on the front row of all of the roller coasters that I went on which really makes it all that more thrilling. Some of them were well high though and I sat next to one bloke on one of them who could not believe that I was a teacher and was going on roller coaster rides - "teachers sure have changed since my day" he said! I saw the Shamu show and all that jazz which I had done before at Sea World in San Diego back in 2001 but fancied going again. I got TOTALLY soaked on a water ride. I saw others who had been clever and taken a towel with them. I thought I was well prepared by having everything in plastic bags inside my rucksack but had neglected to think of being showered by a waterfall and coming out the worst. Soaked RIGHT through with no change of clothes - nice! The ride home was a little uncomfy as I had not dried out! Saw dolphins and stroked one saw sharks in a tank and so on and saw Nemo and Dory and the one with the scar from the film which was great! My new swish camera has taken some pretty good photos and there is a great one of a coral reef that looks like it should be a screen saver - if it comes out as well as it is on the small screen perhaps Ill email it to you to show you.

Audrey and I went to the cinema and out for lunch today. The film was HILARIOUS I laughed and laughed and laughed and I will recommend it to those of you that are old enough to actually see it! (To those of you that are not clicked on, my emails are being sent to some of my former pupils too!!) We also went shopping and had an ice cream. I didn't get too much stuff as I am going to an outlet mall tomorrow - heaven only knows how I am going to get all of it home - new HUGE suitcase or not!!

We are going out to supper to a Mexican restaurant at some point before I go - yeah that would be interesting seeing as the old allergy to bell peppers has not died down! I am sure that there will be something for me to eat without it - like plain tortillas. I am babysitting / spending quality time with the children on Tuesday evening whilst Audrey and Terry go to Hannah's parents evening. We are going to the Oasis for lunch which is a beautiful restaurant over looking Lake Travis that we went to the last time that we were here. Also we are going into Hannah's school for lunch - only if she behaves though - the teacher in me is coming out there! We were meant to be going to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory but I have stopped that as a certain young lady has not been suitably behaved all the time that I have been here to merit me taking her on her own. (She is also reading over my shoulder so I had best stop!) I have promised to play with her in the pool and do various other things instead so I am hoping that she forgets about the movie thing.

Anyway - not such a long one today, can’t believe it is nearly all over and I am hitting reality with a BANG on Friday evening and preparing for the recruitment agencies on Monday morning. HELP ME!!!!!

Hope all is well with you, those still at Regis have a great start of term, I shall be thinking of you all and I have to say I think a small part of me will be wishing that I will still be with you as I sit here by the pool soaking up the sun, reading my book and drinking beer . . no sorry, diet coke. . . I of course don't drink beer :)!!  Those ex Regis new Year 7's - scary! I know you don’t go back till Monday so I look forward to hearing from you next week to find out how big school is all going.

Love and hugs to one and all
Em, Sparksy, Miss Sparks
xxxx

Greetings from sunny Texas

Subject: Greetings from Austin, Texas

Hey Y'all,

Yes another round robin from me! It’s about 106 today and so as it is nearly 2 I thought I would take some time out of the sunshine and send you all an update on my hols. (Just delete if you can’t be bothered to read - its keeping me occupied (typing) while Joshua has a MAJOR tantrum in the next room.)

I have been staying with Audrey, Terry, Hannah (7) and Joshua (2) for a week now and having a lovely time despite the insane heat. It was not like this the last time I was in Texas when it pretty much poured with rain all the time I was in this state. I knew that it was coming though; as I was warned by Nannie (who used to look after me when I was little who also looked after Audrey and has just been out here). Thankfully there is air conditioning everywhere, the house, the car, the shops etc so you are given the opportunity to switch off from the heat apart from when you walk outside.

I hired a car last week for the rest of my stay, a far smaller one than the tank that I drove the last time that I was out here. A lovely cobalt blue 2 door Chevrolet very swish I have to say - still no TT though! (Wrong colour though anyway James and not convertible - midnight blue as you know is the one!!) My word it drinks petrol like you would not believe, I need to fill it up actually that reminds me! I have been on one major day trip so far which was yesterday otherwise I have just been using it to go to the Mall :) yes not quite sure how on earth I am going to make it home with all the bargains that I have found (and the mass of peanut butter M&M's that I have 'invested' in!) Most impressed with my new digital camera though which has a really powerful zoom, I got it way cheaper than it is in the UK and I keep patting myself on the back for that! I just need to find reasons to take pictures now as I am no longer going to need it for school!

I can’t believe the size of places over here, popping to the local store for a pint of milk is never a walk away - its like a 10 min drive. The small local grocery is about 3 times the size of the 'big' Sainsbury's in Bath! Every thing - and yes I mean EVERYTHING is drive thru. I have seen drive thru cash points, which I have to say I remembered from last time I think that we might have even actually used them last time. Drive thru Liquor stores where there are loads of fridges either side of the car and someone gets what you want. Drive thru Starbucks, drive thru pharmacy, drive thru everything, like I said. It’s no wonder that Americans are one extreme or another as if you wanted you don’t actually have to get out of your car for anything. I have been trying really hard to swim about 50-60 lengths of the pool each day, not only is it cooling but I’m trying to feel slightly better for the 'bad' things that I have been eating over here. I have been REALLY good about the peanut butter M&M's though. Those of you that know my little 'problem' there will know just how reserved I am being and how much will power it is taking not to get some every time I see them!

So yesterday I took myself off in the car to San Antonio to see the Alamo and various other sites in the city. Its funny I knew nothing about the Alamo and so many people had said when they heard I was going to Texas if I would be seeing it and I said 'of course' trying to sound as if I knew what they were on about. (Sorry if that was you!) The only Alamo I knew was the rental company that we hired the car from for the big trip. Anyway as soon as I got there I recognised it without having seen pictures or anything. I guess I must have seen part of the John Wayne film at some stage. I won't bore you with the history of the place (you can research it - www.thealamo.org) all I can tell you was that it was 105 but apparently feeling hotter (can you feel the difference I wonder?! Its either hot, . . . hot or . . . hot in my book!) After walking around the Alamo in that heat - I walked round the air conditioned museum REALLY slowly to take in as much of the cool air as possible! - I walked across the street and found a bus tour thing. So I went on that - it was a HUGE coach thingy and I was the only one on the bus it was hilarious, talk about an individual tour of the city (well ok a couple of others got on and off). I paid not to get off the bus but the driver stopped in all the landmarks so that I could take photos - he was really working his tip which I have to say he deserved. If he asked one more person though to say prayers for me though I swear I was ready to turn and say something highly inappropriate back to him! (Sorry but it gets on my nerves when shoved down your throat!) We drove past an outdoor cinema - drive thru. .  . no I mean drive in - see don’t even have to get out of your car for that either. How cool would that be though! It reminded me so much of the film Grease (by the by it was last watched by me with my Year 5's as their end of year treat last year - happy days). We saw some of the Missions that are in the city and the Mexican shopping area of the city. If the Texans had not won the war at the Alamo all those years ago it is quite likely that the entire of this area would still be Mexico according to my guide.  I went on foot to walk some of the River Walk. The river goes right through the city and funnily enough - as it says you walk along the river on the river walk which is below street level and has restaurants etc along it. I only walked a little though as it was getting hot - no that means nothing - it was getting BLISTERINGLY hot. (That gives you a better idea!) So I headed to the cool of the car, which was like an oven, and the steering wheel was really hot too, almost too hot to touch. Oasis, Keane and I headed home via the grocery store for some milk for Audrey (I listened to the radio on the way back from hiring the car - yeah country music really is so not my cup of tea continuously I really HAD to invest in some CD's!! I did wave past Bob Dylan quite quickly though to put it mildly - it was the first CD that I saw amusingly).

So that was yesterday - I did text a couple of you and said that I was off to Sea World yesterday. Well I checked on the web and it is closed this week and open Friday and so I think that I will go then. Planning on visiting Huston tomorrow to do the NASA Space Station as we didn't get to do it last time as there was a horrendous thunderstorm and gushing torrents of rain and we couldn’t see the car 2ft in front - scary driving conditions. I cant remember if it was there that we were trying to 'locate the establishment' (Simon's effort at being super polite on the phone and asking where the Footlocker was that he was phoning asked instead 'Where is your establishment located?' I think it is one of those - you had to be there moments but god it still has Chloe and I in stitches).

Audrey and Terry are in great form and have been nothing but hospitable and welcoming which has been lovely. Hannah when I first arrived was really shy (for about 3 min) and had apparently been really excited about my visit for the previous few days. She is no longer shy to put it mildly but just as sweet as before although can be badly behaved at times. She got a picture off the fridge that she was intent on showing me, it was quite bizarre really, it was the picture that I had sent Audrey after we stayed with them back in 2001 of us all at supper. She pointed to her Mum Dad and me and then could remember Chlo and called her Chlo and Simon but not the others (sorry!) I asked her why she remembered Simon's name only and not the others she said - "'cos he draws good dinosaurs'!! I remember him doing it now, drawing Hannah dinosaurs all through supper. Also she said he was funny because he had to sleep in her Hello Kitty bed. (That was a sight!) Everything was Hello Kitty back then but now it is all animals. She has a puppy - Bella who is a miniature daschund, a gecko which was living in my room at one point in its tank after Terry had been and got it some crickets to eat. I was really happy about that of course. I put things on the cage so it couldn’t get out and had a very restless night’s sleep it has to be said. She now has a praying mantis too but thankfully they are now both in her bedroom with more crickets to feed them both. The back legs have to be pulled off before given to the crawlies which Hannah loves doing. GROSS!

Joshua is 2 and a month and an absolute terror – no really. He has a mass of curly bright red hair and is quite a stocky thing. He eats like a trooper and if it is food he likes it is a double handed action -one puts it in his mouth whilst the other scoops it up and so on. He has a bad habit of hitting people - I am bruised all over. He climbs the outside of their stairs to quite a height which is really dangerous if no one is watching. His food goes everywhere if he is in a foul mood and he screams - no screeches in the middle of the supermarket. Yeah safe to say Mum and Dad have a LONG wait for grand children. I have patience with older ones but none with that age (remember arts week Sarah and Sian? Never again thank heavens!). I am often awoken early in the morning by him throwing his Xylophone against his bedroom door. He is a real brute! But on the other side has the most adorable cheeky grin that is just so sweet. Hannah
revels in him being told off though and at the moment she laughs at him when he is in trouble which is not good as he clearly dotes on her and copies loads of stuff that she does!

So yeah, having a great time. Onto the 4th book now and have also read a couple of American mags as well. Feeling most relaxed. But I guess I must go now, everyone is out collecting Hannah from school and my Ipod is about to run out. I was hoping it would have cooled off a little, I have a feeling it won’t have so I need to go and catch some rays.

Do hope that all is well with all of you and that you are all enjoying your summer hols (and have not fallen asleep - this has gone on a little!).

Loads of love and hugs to one and all
Emma, Sparksy, Miss Sparks
xxxx

Greetings from Sunny California

Subject: Greetings from sunny California
Date: Sun, 14 Aug 2005 18:08:15 +0100 (BST)

Dear All,
I know I know another hideous round robin I’m sorry but if you want news on
me this is how it is coming until I find somewhere I can pay myself to use
the internet as I cant really be on too long as I am using Rachel’s Dad’s.
SO I have been staying here with Rachel/Miss Newman since Tuesday night
and her Mum and Dad and two dogs in Carlsbad which is about a 30 min
drive north of San Diego.  My flight over was a nightmare, so long and
bored and I was sitting next to people who slept all the way and though
they would be using the armrest I was leaning on to sleep against – they
soon realised that they weren’t!  I don’t sleep at all on planes, just can’t
get comfy sleeping.  So I watched 3 of the worst movies ever – never even
heard of them before they were that good.  But hey it helped to pass the
10 and a half hour flight.  The flight attendants were old and rubbish
and, this was the worst thing for me – you had to pay for a beer??!!  I
have spent heaven only knows how much on the plane ticket and I can’t even
get a beer without paying over the odds prices.  I started my book and did
some of my cross stitch and made lots of noise doing it – if I can’t be
comfortable no one ca.  Plus they had not given me an aisle seat and so
attempting a trip to the loo was always fun when the person sitting next
to you is snoring their brains out – oh yes they were!

We have been pottering around this week shopping and visiting beaches and
so on.  It has been lovely seeing where Rachel/Miss Newman grew up really
and meeting some of her friends that I have heard quite a bit about.  The
best trip for me was heading up coast to Newport Beach which is in Orange
County.  My favourite TV programme of the moment is The OC as many of you
may or may not know a little gathering forms around my house now every
Tuesday as a result.  I was so excited about being around that area as it
was where it is ‘set’ it was unreal.  Quite sad really but hey! We didn’t
actually go down to the beach but driving around – wow there are some
serious houses up there!  We went into a shopping mall and a girl in the
queue for the loo was carrying her pet rat (well in fairness some form of
a dog) with her leather pink with massive gold chains bag to carry it in
peroxide hair huge fake nails and enough bronzer on to make me look brown
if she brushed past me! I just though oh my god don’t catch Rachel’s eye or
you will crack up.
It has been really weird walking into some of the stores and seeing things
that remind me of my last trip over here with Chloe and the boys. I have
on a couple of occasions turned around expecting them to be there as I
point something out!  Ahh happy days!  One thing though – I have not had
any peanut butter M and M’s yet!!
We are off out to lunch today with one of Rachel’s brothers and his family
some where close by and this arvo I am sorting out my bags and packing
ready to move on to Texas tomorrow.
Anyway that pretty much all from me for now – I think that we are off and
so I had better stop.
I hope that all is well with all of you and that you are enjoying your
summer as best you can.
Next update will be from Austin, Texas!
Loads of love and hugs to one and all,
Emma / Sparksy / Miss Sparks (delete as appropriate!)
xxx

Home Sweet Home!

55 Faulkland Road,

Oldfield Park,

Bath BA2 3LT

01225 471575

Dear All,

            Well here I am home safe and sound and now in my little cosy mansion here in Bath.  Unfortunately the short spell of nice weather has gone and it is bucketing it down here.

            I spent my last night in San Francisco with Chloe’s cousin Alesha and her boyfriend and dog which was lovely.  I was made to feel most welcome even though I had been rude enough to invite myself!  I had to say goodbye to Chloe and was really very good and managed not to cry.  I was REALLY proud of myself.  It really felt like I was saying goodbye to my Siamese twin as we have been together so much, nearly all day apart from when she is skipping.  No, I was never tempted to join her!  I miss her loads and thankfully I have heard form her via email and she is doing ok in Japan without me and with Ross who is the next travelling companion for her.  She only has one problem which is that she managed to leave her ATM card in the USA.  Silly girl.  I hope that she manages to get it sorted out.

            I took the lovely car back before I checked in.  I shall really miss that old thing I have to say.  I had a few problems in doing so though. Originally Chelle, Chloe’s Mum, was meant to be coming with me in case there were any problems and she wanted to up-grade their car anyway.  She called at about 12:30 that morning to say that she could not meet me as she could not go into the return bay too.  I was very understanding about that but the fact that she had called to let me know 2 hours before we were meant to be meeting really aggravated me. Oh well.  When I dropped it off they tried to tell me that we had not paid the fee for dropping the car off in a different place from where we picked it up.  I had to have a few words with the manager to sort that one out when they eventually agreed that it had already been paid.  A slightly tense moment though!  When I looked at the receipt on the bus on the way to the airport I noticed that the car has now been taken out of the Alamo fleet as it has done too many miles to be in the fleet, so we were the last ones to drive it.  We were so lucky, I think, that we had no problems with it, the only one being the little incident of my chucking the keys in the trash bin outside the supermarket after cleaning out the car and didn’t realise.  Now that was a seriously tense moment and boy did I feel silly having to explain it to the people inside the store so that they could help me find it!

            I typed all this yesterday and more on my return and I managed to loose most of it and I can’t remember what I had to say, of great interest obviously!  I am enrolled for this year and had lectures today – double maths, can you think of anything worse! (4 hours!!)

            I will go now, loads of love hugs and kisses to one and all, keep in touch – PLEASE!

                                    Em

                                    Xxx

Uncle John – I would like to take the opportunity to point out that whilst travelling I was typing fast and not spell checking what I had written.  This was because I was paying for my time on the internet and it always takes ages to spell check.  I know that my spelling is no where near perfect – but it is not THAT bad!!! 

Sam E-S- I waved whilst I was flying over Paris, couldn’t spot you though unfortunately!

Ed – Very much looking forward to seeing you on the 13th of October.  I won’t bother sending the photos to you, you can get them when you are here.

Ned – I hope that the patient is making a full recovery and that you can understand the directions to the mansion!  I hope to se you here soon. 

James – Thanks for the personal message.  I got my photos back of South America and I was quite sad looking over all of the good times that we had.  At least Chloe and Ed live in the same country but I have to travel bloody miles if I want to see you soon!  I hope that all is well.

George – Thank you so much for the welcome home card with the girls addresses on.  I will send them off soon.  Can’t wait to show you the photos, don’t worry I have a fair few of the Grand Canyon!

Bob – Great to talk to you on Thursday evening.  Hope that you managed to get back to all of your “friends”!!!  I will finish the tape this week, just 2 more songs to go on there and then it will be on its way to you.  Come down and stay soon and you can see all of the photos.

Kev – thank you SO much for the Chili Peppers CD.  I have been playing it loads since I have been home.  I hope that your travels are going well and that you are behaving yourself! (As if!)

Si – tape will be in the post soon.  Hope all is well.  Come and stay soon and you can see all of the photos.

Chloe – I miss you loads.  Silly girl for leaving ATM card behind.  I hope that you managed to get it all sorted.  Did Ross remember the guide books??!!  Love you loads.

Alesha, Scott and Sasha – thank you very much once again for having me to stay on Tuesday night.  It was lovely to see you all one more time before I left.

Leah – Hope that all is well with you and that you are sorted for Spain.

Chris and Josh – Let me know your phone numbers in Cambridge and I will be in touch.  Must come down for another weekend with you both.

Hels – where in the world are you and what are your details in Oxford and your new mobile number?

Farts – Thanks for the welcome home message.  I will call wheni am more organised.  Are you and Bat going to Rowena’s as I am going to book my train ticket soon, can’t cope with the idea of driving to London! How about meeting here on Friday night, Bethan coming over and we can paint Bath pink again, possibly?  Tell Bat.

Roy – Thanks for the message, glad that all is going well.  I have accepted your messenger thing so speak to you when you are next on line.

Marty – I hope that America was cool.  Looking forward to hearing from you soon.

Paul – Hope that you are well and settled into Bristol, give me a bell and we must meet up soon.

Juliet and Uncle Ant – Glad that you got all of them, Mum told me, I was worried as they were all being sent back to me at one point!  Hope that they boys are both well.

Erica W. – I am now here and so give me a call and we must meet up if you fancy it!  Saw you in the bar, typical, on Sunday at the hypnotist!  All my friends were perching the the side of you leaning against the wall.  Call soon.

Audrey – Hope that you got the answer phone message that I am safe and sound.  Love to Terry and Hannah, and of course Nannie!

******* That’s all folks!*******

My Reeboks

Dear All,

I want to start my last email from America to you all with a quote from an email that a friend of mine sent me. I am not mentioning names but it is the nicest thing that anyone has said to me in a long time and I wanted to share it with you.

“You are one of the most thoughtful people I know and I sincerely feel honoured to be included in your list of friends.”

You know who you are, it meant a lot, thank you.

I did manage to meet up with Leah while I was in San Francisco on the last night that we were there when we went to a German restaurant with Alesha and Scott too. It was so lovely to see her and we gossiped all night. It is such a pity that we couldn’t have spent more time together but she wanted all the time left that she was with her boyfriend which is fair enough. When she goes to Spain in October for a few months to learn Spanish and Flamenco dancing she is going to try and make it over to the UK and visit and so that should be pretty cool.

Now onto what I have been up to whilst here in the hills north east of Sacramento. We have been staying with Chloe’s grandparents, Pops and Patricia in a small town called Placerville, also known as ‘Hangman’s Town’. Of course Chloe neglected to tell us that until we saw it on the signs! It was a place where in the 19th century and before they used to hang people. There is now a bar over the exact spot and amusingly they have a dummy hanging, quite literally, outside on the wall with a nose around its neck!

The first day that we got here we went out to a Mexican restaurant. Kev has been dying to go for a Mexican as long as we can remember and so Chloe and I relented and went. It wasn’t too bad but I had little choice as everything has peppers in it and I didn’t fancy another night like in Asuncion sitting by the loo all evening waiting to chuck. I had some nachos that didn’t have peppers on them. They weren’t that bad.

We went to Lake Taho which is on the borders of the states of Nevada and California and we saw it from both sides and from a high point called Mount Rose which is 8,000 ft high. Even from there the water was amazingly clear. We went and saw a bay called Emerald Bay which was simply stunning. The waster was, as I am sure you can all work out from the name, the colour of emeralds. It was quite extraordinary and simply beautiful.

I thankfully managed to get out of going to church with Pops and Patricia as I could see that I would have got a serious case of the giggles as it is all electric guitars, dancing, backing singers and flashing disco lights. Not my scene at all I am afraid. I felt that I should have gone because of all of the tragedies of the previous weeks but I am ashamed to say that I didn’t.

On Monday we went to a place called Grass Valley where Pops used to live when he was married to Chloe’s grandmother and we went to visit the grave and it was really freaky as Pops name was on the grave too, waiting for the date that he dies to be filled in. I felt a shudder go down my spine when I saw that. We looked at all of the old places that he went to school and lived throughout his life and so on and so forth. It was more a trip down memory lance for Chloe and him but I found it fascinating. It is very weird to think that he is only 5 years older than my own father. We then went shooting in a place called the Greenhorn. It is usually a river but it is pretty much dried up and it is a mere trickle at the moment. Don’t worry readers, we were shooting at targets and I have to say I was really quite pleased with myself – I managed to hit the targets on several occasions. I shot a 22 calibre rifle and a 25 calibre pistol that was beautiful. I didn’t use the others that Pops had as I was too scared by the loud bang for starters and also by the kick back. One of the guns which was an M1 was used in WWII. That was fascinating, as the night before we had watched Saving Private Ryan which I had never seen before. They were using those guns in there and after I saw the difficulty that Chloe had in shooting it and it made me realise just how difficult it is to run and shoot at the same time. Pops was telling us all about when he used them in WWII when he was posted in Japan. It was also fascinating hearing about all his experiences during the war whilst we were watching the film.

Kev left last Wednesday and Chloe cooked a delicious supper the night before he left to bid him adieu. We were even joined by three buck at one point that were not more than 15 ft away. Quite amazing.

On Thursday it was Pop’s 75th birthday and we had a surprise party for him which went down really well and he had no idea. If he did have an idea he hid it pretty well! There were all of Patricia’s sisters and some other friends form the church and Alesha made it up from San Francisco. It was a really special day for him and he really seemed to enjoy it. The presents that he got do leave a little to be desired. One was a leopard print thong and there was talk at one point that he should model it for us or maybe just for Patricia, she was not best pleased with that idea I have to say. The look on her face was highly amusing!

Yesterday we went to a place called Apple Hill, Chloe’s heaven I have to say! I wasn’t particularly enthralled with the idea of looking at lots of apple orchards, in my book, once you have seen one, you have seen them all!! Anyway, we managed to divert after seeing one and Chloe buying 20, that’s apples not boxes! We headed towards a vineyard, more my cup of tea! We had a good hour of tasting and had a ball and even came away with a couple of bottles, 2 of which I plan to take home. Someone pointed out that they might not let me take glass on to the plane as hand luggage. ‘Oh no!’ I said well I will have to tell the people at check in that I am not leaving them behind and that I would sit there and drink them. Now that would make the flight a lot more comfortable, it would certainly calm the nerves!!

We went to the cinema last night which was hilarious. We saw a film called Rat Race which is a comedy about a race for the people to get the money that an owner of on of the casino’s in Las Vegas had hidden. I am not going to tell you any more. I doubt that it is out over there yet but I highly recommend that you all go and se it. I laughed my head off. Chloe was telling me to shut up as I was laughing so loudly at one point and no doubt embarrassing her senseless!

No it is back to Sunday again and thank the lord (no pun intended) I managed to get out of church this morning. Chelle, Chloe’s Mum brought Scott’s computer around this arvo and we have been typing away all afternoon. I can’t believe that this is it. The end, no more group emails. Back to life in the UK. Do I really want to go back? Yes and no is the answer. I am so used to life on the road and living out of a suitcase it will be quite weird to have all of my stuff in the cupboard at No 55. I bet though it will take me about a week to unpack it all!! I have got double the amount of clothes that I came out with and I have an extra bag. I am going to miss not moving on to another town every other day, we have all sorts of things going on here the whole time that I think that I will be really bored back at No 55.

What in hells name am I going to do without Chloe? For god’s sake I have been sharing a bed with the girl for the past 3 weeks. I will be glad to have covers though that she doesn’t nick in the night and I bet that she will be glad to be rid of my tossing and turning all night. It’s going to be real strange without her. 24 hours a day pretty much I have been with her and now I am leaving her in the capable (?) hands of Ross when she arrives in Japan.

As for the title, well, my beloved Reeboks that have lasted me well, I have worn them pretty much every day since I have been here, got pretty busted yesterday when Chloe caught the back of the them and the sole ripped. That solves the problem of whether I am going to take them back or not then!! Bye bye my beloved NON SMELLY Reeboks.

I am off shopping tomorrow for a final few things, I can’t fit that much more in the bag and I certainly don’t have the strength to carry it all! On Tuesday we are taking the car back. No nasty incidents although I did nearly loose the keys on Friday. I was clearing out the car as the tins of palm hearts were smelling really bad. I had the car key on my little finger and was filling up a plastic bag and chucked it in the bin by the supermarket trying to be good by tidying up. The keys must have gone in there too without my realising until I got to the checkout and looked for them. The trash can had been emptied and so I had to get the manager to look in “Jaws” the trash shute at the back of the store. Luckily they were found but my word it was a tense moment!

I am going to stay with Chloe’s cousin Alesha the night before I go as Chloe and her Mum and Scott are staying in a hotel near San Hose airport where Chloe is leaving from.

So that’s my movements. When I get home I am at my parents till Sunday morning when I am driving back to Bath for my final year. Their number is 01672563420 as my mobile won’t be working for a couple of days as it is cut off at the moment and I need to get it reconnected. Try that too though guys if you want to get a hold of me. 07866588679. Bath no 01225471575.

Friends, as pretty much all of you know the birthday is soon and so another party plan is in the making. I think that it is on a Saturday this year and I think that we will probably be painting the town pink, or what ever colour you please. All those who live further away, if you are planning on joining in the madness then let me know. There is plenty of floor space after the spare bed, the Z bed and my bed. As those who came last year will know, it is always a hoot. Ill probably do supper at mine first. Anyway keep the weekend free is the main message. (1st December for those of you those have not got it tattooed on your brain!)

Loads of love and hugs and so on and so forth. Kind of excited to speak to you and see you all again. Last email will come from No 55 once I am settled in on Sunday.

Em

Xxx

******* HERE COME THE PERSONAL BITS!********

Neddy – Yes I am going to be at home. I hope that the party goes well. I am sorry that I am not going to be there and to keep things moving and amusing! Looking forward to seeing you honeeyyyyyyyyy. Rock on Milton Lilbourne!

Mrs Mackintosh – I have got the girls little presents from over here. I thought that it would be nice if I sent them to them. Getting parcels at school is always a real excitement! Please could you send me their addresses, thank you!

Hugo – going to get the hat tomorrow, I hope that I get the right one

Farts – WESTLIFE oh my god, count me in yes, yes, yes, please, please, please!!!!!! Why did you even bother to ask me, you should have just got me one and then told me!

Kev – Hope that the bible is coming in use and that you aren’t missing our company too much. Have you caught up with Alehsa? She has your T-shirt and pen knife. I decided not to send the smelly socks with her, I think that Pops is going to make use of them! I found the Chilli Peppers CD in the car and so I will record it and send it to you on my return. Quite lucky really!

Jap – Si – are you alive?

Rowena – date for the party in London looks cool. I am not quite sure that I will bring who you recommended. He has little time for me and so I am sure that he would not spare time from his “busy schedule”

Em – I sent you a text. I am not registering this week; I am not back in time. I am going to have to pay a ridiculous £25. Please collect my timetable and so on and anything else I might need or forms I need to fill in. Check to see if SHE is there, I am not in your group if she is. Could you see if you can get my results, I want to know how my retake went? Please let me have passed! Call Mum and Dad and leave your number there.

Sam – that’s not so bad then

Andy – Yes I am still over here!

Ile – Pause woman – Don’t stress I am back in 4 days and then I will be on the phone to sort your life out. Chill woman and love to Aneta.

Erica – you will have moved onto campus today. I hope that you are settling in well. Tell me where you are and I will come and visit when I am back on campus.

Uncle John – I am worried about you, that is why I got Mum and Dad to tell you to email me.

Roy – thank you for all the photos. They look really cool.

James – hey honey, it looks like you are having a really cool time out there and are meeting loads of new people. Just don’t forget us!!! Look forward to hearing the next update.

Ed – looking forward to you coming to stay soon. Mum is getting the photos done and so I will send them to you when I get home.

Audrey – have a good time with Nannie, I wish that I was with you all, it would be such good fun but quite strange for Nannie I guess! I’ll call you soon I promise. Love to everyone.

Bob a job – Showed quite a few people the poetic genius that you wrote, they were impressed, I am not sure whether it was because it was so good or so bad!! Only kidding hun.

Bob’s Poem / Rhyme!

There were three travellers to San Francisco

As Bob and Si left, they said – “Don’t go!”

Their pain was clearly quite mighty,

But Bob and Si just had to go back to Blighty.

The first is something we all do know,

And that is that Kev’s a Gypsy – Barlow.

For sure we all know that Jap-Si too,

With all those steaks his stomach grew!

Throughout the girls were on a high

While Bob was just …………. Well aye!!!

Now it’s all over you’re like our sisters and brother

But the one we all know best is Kev’s mother

So once again I’ll say bye bye,

But don’t start again, please …… don’t cry!!

Mum, Dad and Huge – can’t wait to see you guys, Huge are you going to be there when I get home or will you be in Bristol? I hope that you will be at home so that I can see you. I love you and have missed you all. See you on Thursday at the airport. Can you remember what I look like???!!!

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A Message from the President

The Round Office,

The Fishy Smelling House,

Pier 39,

San Francisco,

California

Fellow friends, comrades, relatives,

I would like to thank you all for your kind messages that bunny and I (aka the First Teddy!) have received over the past few days concerning the atrocities that have occurred over on the East Coast of the United States. I do ask though that you stop calling my parents, as touched as they are, calls at 12 at night are really not very welcome (you know who you are!). Only kidding, they obviously hear much more from me than most of you do and so if you want any info then call them during daylight hours.

I seriously thought it was a joke when my vice, Chloe (with two dots over the “e”) Wright, woke me at some unearthly hour of the morning to inform me. Obviously there was little that I could do to help at that time but to sit and watch the terrible events unfold. You will all, I hope, be pleased to hear that I and my party are indeed safe over on the west coast in San Francisco. There have been scares and the city was on alert but it is mildly calmer now in comparison to what it was.

We managed to make it into Mexico from San Diego which I forgot to mention in the last email as I was in such a rush as the car was running out of time on the meter. We managed to get in and out with hardly a look at the passport which seems just so ridiculous compared to the last experience with Bob and the “you have effectively deported yourself” saga. We had a beer and tried our hardest not to be lured into a nightclub (well more like day-club that wanted us to go in and enjoy the music as it was 2 in the afternoon – bizarre!) We had a beer and headed on towards LA.

We met Chloe’s cousin on the weekend which was really nice and got told about how to walk up to the Hollywood sign. I have to say that I did not do the walk but read some delightful piece of literature in the car instead. We tried to do the Grave Line tour but we could not follow the directions and didn’t know any of the places that they mentioned. I think that you need to know the city a lot better than we did and also I think that you need a much better map than we actually had. We don’t seem to be too good on getting maps that are any good at all. It makes the drive even more amusing to say the least!

The drive to San Fran was beautiful, all along the coast, me doing the driving on the twisty windy roads. I think that Kev would have rather that he was driving though. My father would have been useless as there were sheer drops down to the sea. As they drive on the right hand side of the road over here though we were right in against the cliff. It was also rather fraught trying to find the Econolodge, our last one that we will be staying in (I am wiping away the tears!). I had read the directions and could see the road signs and was following them but I was told to go another way that led us down the wrong way, Oh well, we all learn from experiences like that I guess!

On our first day here we cancelled all of our engagements with our friends and relatives here as they and we wanted to sit in and watch the unfolding events of the tragedy. It was extraordinary, we heard nothing about London being shut down or anything on the American News and that the whole world was on alert until a friend of Chloe’s called. Trying to call home was a nightmare as the lines were obviously constantly busy. Luckily they knew that I was alright at home and so when I eventually managed to get through to speak to them they were not in a blind panic or frankly in the least bit worried!

Yesterday we went to an area of San Francisco called the Mission where a ½ cousin of Chloe’s lives and we thought that we were meeting her for a coffee and then she was going to suggest a few places that we should go. Instead she had a whole tour mapped out for us that she took us on and it was an excellent tour. We had lunch in this delicious place that is owned by Francis Ford Coppella and he has a vineyard in the Napa valley and some of his wines we had a tasting of in the restaurant and then had a really scrummy lunch. From there we moved off to Chinatown. Amusingly also known as Pink Bag city by the locals as all of the shops give you pink plastic bags with no writing on to carry your shopping home in. We then hit the shops.

We went to FAO Schwartz which was excellent fun. It is where they filmed the scene from the film Big with Tom Hanks in with that wicked floor piano. Unfortunately the HUGE one is no longer there but there is a largish one there that you can play on and you can also buy one kind of similar but I managed to resist that one!!! I did get a lot of stuff in there though that I am really chuffed with. I can’t mention what it is as some of it is going to the recipients of this email and I don’t want to spoil the surprise!

I managed to make it to a Hello Kitty store which was brilliant and I managed to get a couple of pairs of trousers which my legs, which were turning blue from the cold by then, were very appreciative of! I managed to leave my one pair of trousers at Audrey’s (Audrey – they have arrived at Chloe’s grandparents – thank you! I will call soon, I promise. Not long until Nannie arrives!!) They are comfy, which is more than can be said for the others that I brought! Anyway enough about my clothes!!

I have managed to get all of my America photos developed which I am really pleased with and I have stuck them all in an album or two with all of the bits and pieces that I have picked up along the way and have been given by others, Si the precious metro card has gone in, fret not! I am waiting now for the latest film to be developed of the end of LA and San Francisco while I am typing. Some of the photos are REALLY good and I look forward to showing them all to you.

Today Chloe and I have been to visit Alcatraz. Wow! What an experience. It is really eerie over there it is unreal and I am really surprised that there are so many survivors that did not come out with mental disorders or communicating difficulties. We saw one bloke that was a survivor that was guiding a tour and there were a lot that were talking on the headset tour that we did. I have managed to get some really amusing souvenirs but mainly I bought yet more postcards, mainly for the photo album / scrap book. You would all be really disgusted by the amount of postcards that I have sent on this trip, but those of you that have been with me won’t be at all surprised, it is now well over 100! That is a lot of money and a lot of writing and so I hope that you have all appreciated them all.

We are going out to supper this evening, with or without Kev, he did not join us last night and had a MASSIVE hang over this morning after arriving back last night at about 12:30 as nissed as a pewt! Woke me up and I was not best pleased about that but I lay still and pretended that I was asleep, I have no idea how Chloe managed to sleep through the racket that he made when he came in. Lucky cow! Anyway. We are meeting with Alisha, Chloe’s cousin and her boyfriend and I am also meeting with Leah and her new boyfriend and we are all going out to supper. I really can’t wait to see Leah, the last time that I saw her was in Romania the first time that I was there in ’98 as she was teaching in a school in Bucharest, Cosbuc for all you Romanian linked people that don’t remember with Josh and Holly and so we got to meet her by that and we have kept in touch since we both left. Originally it was meant to be just Xmas and birthday but it has been a bit more regular than that which has been really cool. I think that we are also going to meet her for brunch tomorrow before we leave for Chloe’s grandparents.

So the plan is that I am returning home at 18:30 my time (that 2am the following day your time – UK) on the 26th of September and I am flying to Paris on flight AF0831 and I arrive there at 13:55 Paris time and leave Paris on flight AF 1870 at 15:00 and arrive at London Heathrow to a small but smiling group of people who will be very glad to see me, namely my parents, unless Hugo decides to crop up too, at 15:10 on the 27th of September which is a Thursday. So now you all know my movements and can listen in about all of the planes and know that I am not in the middle of somewhere I shouldn’t be. I am hoping that that will be the plans, I may have to change them if the lack of flights continues any longer. Fingers crossed it won’t, I am quite scared about flying home anyway now as a result and I am doing it all on my own. At least the first Teddy will be with me to “hold my hand”! (What would I do without Bunny I wonder?!!)

My love and big hugs and kisses to one and all and I hope to hear from you all soon.

Em

Xxx

No more personal comments apart from to thank each and every one of you that has texted me, emailed me and called my parents to find out that I am ok and not effected. It is so nice to know that I have such a strong group of friends behind me supporting and caring about me every step of the way. You are ALL very special to me.

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What the hell am I doing Drinking in LA – Bran Van 3000

No, its alright, don’t panic the sunburn has nearly gone. What a relief!! I am so hot in tops that are covering my shoulders. It is much hotter here in LA than it was in Vegas, well it certainly feels that way. In reality it is not!

Having a fab time. Went to Disney Land with Chloe 2 days ago which was wonderful. I finally got to meet Mickey and Minnie Mouse, WOW and I go to go inside their houses and get autographs and everything. Chloe was highly embarrassed by my over excitement but it was pure bliss to say the least. I just hope that the photos come out ok. Kev decided not to join us on that little adventure. At least that meant that Chloe and I could have some cheesy music in the car without any complaints. Kev is complaining that he is going deaf from the bad loud music that we play in the car. I don’t think so, I think that he just needs his ears cleaning out!

Went to Universal Studios yesterday which was fabulous. Went on loads of rides and got soaked on the Jurassic Park one. I was clever and put on the poncho that we brought just before we got on the ride whilst Kev thought that he would be hard and not, he soon regretted it when he came off looking absolutely soaked!

We tried to book our tour round Hollywood that we had so been looking forward to. We were going to go around in a Cadillac hearse to see all the sights where people were shot, raped, murdered and so on, it would have been excellent, but unfortunately the bloke seems to have stopped doing it.

We have managed to get Chloe skipping not quite so early in the morning and so at least we are getting a little bit of a lie in. I have to say that I am definitely not a morning person compared to Chloe who always looks like she has swallowed a whole bag of sugar. I think that the others are getting used to that fact, slowly.

As I said, we are on Hollywood Boulevard at the moment with all of the stars on the ground and the names of people on and so on. I think that Kev is on a mission to find Bob Dylan’s. Chloe and I have made a pact that as soon as he goes off looking we are heading into a coffee shop, I would rather jump off the Eiffel Tower I think than hunt for his star. Bob and Si you will be proud to hear that we have had NO Bob Dylan played since you left, nearly a week ago now, my how time flies!!

We have seen the Hollywood sign which was SO disappointing as I thought that it was going to be way larger than it actually is, very disappointing. I have to find it again though as I ran out of film last night as I took a photo of Chloe with Dracula, no that is not our nickname for Kev; it was a character at Universal!

Hmmnn, what else to tell you? Worryingly Chloe has got Kev running every other evening. I have never seen anyone so red and sweating so much as when he comes back. And they say that running is meant to do you good. As you can tell I am not joining them and have no intentions of doing so in the future either. Me running, now that really would be a sight and a half!

Went down Rodeo Drive earlier today and managed to keep Chloe out of the shops and in her bank manager’s good books by keeping her locked in the car. She would have been a nightmare. I am already having to buy another bag to cart home all of the presents that I have brought and the clothes that I have stocked up on whilst they are cheap. I couldn’t possibly take another case full of stuff of hers back too. Already I fall over backwards I would look like the turtle in the Kit Kat ad- you know the one that can’t get back up again! Quite a sight!

Well I had better go, the money on the car is about to run out and I am getting some weird looks from people that run the Chinese adjacent to the internet place. I am not having a Chinese for lunch GO AWAY!!!!

Hope that all is well with you. Only about 17 days till I am home, that is the 27th of September at 3:10pm for those of you that keep asking me but who I forget to answer. Remember my mobile is cut off and 55’s answer machine is turned off too, if you need to get hold of me leave a message with my Mum or drop a note through the door with your Bath Number on (that goes to all you college buddies) and if you know of anyone else’s drop that around too.

Loads of love and hugs and kisses to one and all, miss you and hope to hear form you soon,

Em

Xxx

Mum and Dad – Missing you loads. A pity about Tom. At least I tried, please tell Angie. BIG HUGS AND KISSES.

Huge – was it blue or black NYC cap that you wanted? Reply by text or email, preferably the former or I will get a pink one!

Sorry no time for personal messages for anyone else, next time chickens.20110829-212324.jpg20110829-212331.jpg20110918-164548.jpg20110918-164558.jpg20110918-164608.jpg20110918-164617.jpg20110918-164629.jpg20110918-164727.jpg20110918-164741.jpg20110918-164748.jpg20110918-164757.jpg20110918-164825.jpg20110918-164836.jpg20110918-164846.jpg20110918-164854.jpg20110918-164902.jpg20110918-164910.jpg20110918-164916.jpg

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Leg 3, Minus 2

Dear All,

Well I have been away from the emails for quite a few days now and I had a ridiculously full inbox with a mere 88 messages! Glad to hear that all is well with all of you and that we managed to thrash Germany 5-1! That has put me in a good mood despite the aching sunburn.

Well where to start, we have done so much since I last wrote. El Paso was not really as good as we had hoped it would be. We thought that we would take a peep at the border and then turn around as we can’t go over with the car. We got slightly stuck though as we had to come back in though American Customs as we went a little too far before we did our U-turn. Something that we are getting quite familiar with doing now (U-Turns I mean). We had to come back I through American customs and they were none too impressed with our little mistake. “State your citizenship” was shouted at us through the window and we had to show our passports. All of us bar Bob had ours on us. His was in the boot and he was about to get out to get it and he was shouted at to stay in the car and we had to go off to a special bay where he could get his passport out to show the officials. We were asked where we are heading to and we said Las Vegas and we were told, by the officer who had a very bemused face on answering, that we were no where near Las Vegas and once Bob had got his passport he was told that he had effectively deported himself. I think that it was a case of you had to be there to find it funny. The long and the short of it was that we never actually made it to Mexico – not through lack of trying though!

SO we headed to the Grand Canyon and Chlo, Bob and I all took a helicopter ride over the magnificent view. It was really the only way to see it as we got to see so much and the colours of the rock are just SO amazing it is unreal. Then we went into the park and saw it from the top which was cool as at least we got to see that we had got our monies worth by going up in the helicopter. I just wish that I was a rich bitch and could have paid for Kev and Si to come up with us so that they could have seen too how amazing it was. It was pretty hot in the Grand Canyon but nothing compared to Las Vegas.

Chloe treated us all to a couple of nights in a plush hotel in Vegas, right on the strip which was excellent. I was really surprised that she could actually find anywhere as it was Labour Day weekend, like the last Bank Holiday of the summer and so everyone would be out in force. We didn’t tell the lads about it until we were there as we were meant to be staying in another trusty Econolodge – little did they know! They were pleasantly surprised, if not a little overwhelmed by it. It was ace though. We had a King sized bed in each room and the boys also had a roll away bed. Simon was not at all happy about having to share a bed with Kev (well I think it was more the idea of sharing a bed with a bloke that he was worried about). Such a fuss was made it was hilarious and so I felt I had to tell you all as he is getting this email as well. Ha ha Si!! But then on the other hand if you get an email from him, which he threatened, believe nothing and someone, please forward what he wrote! Also Mum and Dad there was a mention of them coming to visit you. DON’T LET THEM!!!!

There was a massive bath in the room as well called a love tub which Chloe and I filled up and jumped in with cosies on at one point which was lovely. We went down to the pool at the hotel which was amusing, so many implants it was unreal. The boys didn’t want to go down till about 4pm but if they came down when we did at about mid day they really would not have known where to have looked. I managed not to change colour one little bit. It was really hot and I even managed to last longer than Chloe in the heat which I was really impressed with. I went and had a sports massage as my neck had flared up again. As it is from tension, I know exactly why the neck flared up, but luckily the massage totally managed to ease it.

We went out on the Saturday night to paint the town red, white and blue. We went to a place called Caesars Palace which was amazing. There were tables where the minimum bet was about $100, I couldn’t believe it. I did bet 25c. Chloe would not let me leave Vegas without having a flutter in the slot machines and so I did. And I lost. I felt much better for doing it though! We then went to try and go to a club in the MGM Grand – the largest hotel in the world with the most ridiculous amount of rooms. We would have to queue for hours though and most of us were loosing our energy and so we went to a club out of the centre called The Beach. It was a pile of . . . well . . . loo roll really!! They were chucking down paper towels at sporadic times and then at one point they put on a wind machine behind some loo rolls and they went flying into the crowd. The music was quite good at times. By the time that we decided that we had to make it onto the dance floor, the sooner we did the sooner we could go theory, the music turned rubbish, I just wanted to watch them all making a fool of themselves. Instead I managed to be pretty much in the middle of the dance floor standing totally still. I feel I should have had a lot more alcohol in me for that experience! Ah well!!

So we survived Vegas without loosing all of our money and also by not getting married! Mum and Dad will be very relieved to hear that as will Anca and Lili who gave me strict instructions to do neither. Laura D. – you really have to go there, it is your heaven babe. We said goodbye to Bob and Si on Sunday afternoon after making one more stop at a Nike shop for Si’s blessed shoes – and failed, so glad we spent so much of our time in America searching for them. We are all quite tempted to go back with a pair now just to really annoy him. We must have spent such a large proportion of our time looking for those darned things.

It was quite weird saying goodbye and setting off on our trip on our trip down here to San Diego on our own. We had so much room in the car it was ridiculous and there was no one to try and out wit my belching which seems to be quite infamous now!

We went to Sea World yesterday which was pretty cool even if we did get conned out of quite a bit of money. We had lunch with the Killer Whales which was pretty amazing, even if the lunch was pretty dire. There was a 3 day old baby killer whale there which was just SO adorable, even if it was 6 foot long! We saw the dolphin show which was lovely and I got to feed and touch a dolphin which was an amazing experience for me as they are my favourite animals. Kev got shat on by a bird which added much amusement to mine and Chloe’s day even if Kev was not at all amused but it. I had my hair wrapped; you know one of those brightly coloured string things. Well I had to have some blue somehow in my hair!

I got totally burnt yesterday as I did not even think to take sun tan lotion as it was not at all hot when we came out. SILLY GIRL – yes I know Mum! SO I am in absolute agony today – NICE! We are trying to go across to Tijuana today, a little Mexican border town. We seem to be spending quite a while on the internet though and so I am not sure if we are going to make it as we are driving to LA this afternoon and we want to get there in the light. We also want to swim when we get there as the Econolodge has a pool.

Not quite sure when I will next get to email. It is weird I would have thought that the email cafes would have been everywhere here but it seems that that is not the case.

Well chucks, I am off then. I need to put the jumper back on to cover up the lobster skin before I go outside. This is a nightmare. I hope that it goes away soon. Loads and loads of love and hugs to one and all. Miss you all and hope to hear from you soon,

Em

xxx

Ed – Sounds like you got on well with my parents! Thank you so much for taking everything over to them. See you when I get back for photo swap!

Paul – Mum told me that you are going to be going to Bristol. Bad luck as well as being close to your bro you will also be near Hugo and I. We will have to meet up at some point. I haven’t see you in ages, not since Venice.

Farts – I am going brown – at last!

Batty – At least I will be back to be able to see the article my self.

Row – I got your email. THANK YOU! Hope that all is going well. I guess that you will have started Law School by now.

Huge – Hello darling – hope that you have a wicked time at Notting Hill, look forward to hearing from you again soon.

Alex – sounds like you are having a busy time at the moment, send my love to the family

Audrey, Terry and Hannah – MY TROUSERS! I have spoken to you and so you know what to do with them. Thank you so much for having us all once again, we had such a cool time.

Leah – Chloe’s phone number is 00447710020036. Give us a call or give me a number for me to call you on in San Fran. We will be there probably on Monday or Tuesday for about 3 or 4 days before going to Placerville.

Anca, Lili and Mara – Thank you for the photos. SHE IS WEARING THE TOP THAT I SENT! Glad that the postcards and letters are coming through, even if they are a bit sporadic!

ILE – When you get this babe, you will be back in Romania. I miss you already and I WANT YOU BACK IN THE UK. Glad that you had a good time with Hols, pity about Ani.

Bob and Si – Aright the Gyp-siiiiiii’s so it is more comfortable in the car without you but Chloe has no hope at beating me on the belching front!!! Hope that all is well with you. Strange without you both. Hope to hear from you soon.

James – Hope all is well with you, a little worried as I haven’t heard form you in a while

Roy – Thanks for the email. Hope that classes are going well. This is quite a long one too, I hope that you manage to get through it as I know that Chloe is sending one too!!

Mum and Dad – I miss you and I love you loads.

***** That’s all folks *****
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Elevation

Dear All,

Titled so because the U2 song has been played rather a lot in the car. I am warning anyone showing this to a younger viewing audience, you may want to check through it before showing it to them.

Right so the last place that I emailed from was Nashville. Shortly after I emailed we walked down the street and Chloe bumped into an acquaintance which was highly amusing. Such a small world. We then stood on the street chatting to her whilst also watching a country music video being made for some revolting looking country looking music band. We were actually in it which was quite amusing. The worst thing about Nashville was that we never got to record our CD which we were SO hoping to do. The place that it mentioned in the Rough Guide was not there anymore. Oh well probably for the best really as some of the boys SERIOUSLY can’t sing!

We then moved on to Memphis, I drove some more and had no complaints this time, I think that Kevin has well learnt his lesson by now. Thanks Tom for the comment it really made me laugh! Memphis was brilliant. Of course we all did Gracelands which we really enjoyed. It was very cheesy and tacky but it so had to be done. I am certainly not an avid Elvis fan but he has definitely grown on me since visiting Gracelands. Do you know he spent more money on doing up one of his private jets than he did on actually buying the thing in the first place? It had gold buckles on the seats and a gold basin in the guest bathroom. The bloke did give a lot of money away to charity though and I never knew about this side of him before. I have to say he really was a very generous man. It looked like he would have been a really good laugh to be around.

(Elvis was only 22 when he brought Gracelands for $100,000 in 1957. It was then considered one of the most desirable properties in Memphis, now the neighbourhood is slightly less exclusive as the main thoroughfare – Elvis Presley Boulevard is lined with motels and fast food joints but surprisingly only a few Elvis Souvenir shops. You start the tour of Gracelands on the opposite side of the road and then you are ferried across by bus up to the house itself – its LITERALLY across the road?! You go through a musical gate called “The Wall of Love” where fans have scrawled tens of thousands of messages. Throughout the tour there are clips and so on of the king himself and various members of the family and friends. The interior of the house is a frozen tribute to the taste of the Seventies with some choice rooms like the Jungle room which has a waterfall and green shag carpeted ceiling where Elvis recorded “Moody Blue” and some other gems from his latter years. There is the navy and lemon TV room (where I got told off for taking a photo with flash!) which has three screens that now display 1970s talk shows. There is the trophy room which displays all of the gold, silver and platinum records that Elvis received as well as stage costumes, outfits from many of his 31 films and his extensive gun collection. The tour of the interior ends with the racquetball court where he played on the morning that he died. Elvis (Jan 8th 1935 – August 16th 1977), his mother Gladys, father Vernon and his grandmother lie buried beside the swimming pool in the Meditation garden. Their graves are strewn with toys and flowers sent daily from Elvis fans. His body was moved here 2 months after his death after there were security concerns at the cemetery (where he initially lay.)

There are still many personal items of Elvis’s strewn across the house for fans to see such as a TV that was punctured by a bullet fired by Elvis himself (he also shot his fridge, his stereo and even Lisa Marie’s slide), his HaiKarate and Brut aftershave. You can go and see his personal airplanes including the Lisa Marie which I mentioned earlier. The tour ends in the Elvis Presley Automobile Museum which has a Harley Davidson golf cart in it and a powder pink Cadillac and a reconstructed drive-in showing clips of his films.

We went for a night out in Memphis as well which was highly amusing. Thankfully not so much of the country music but mainly blues which reminds me of a band called the Nightloosers that I saw a couple of times in Romania. We spent a large majority of the evening drinking and ended up in a bar called Wet Willies, which just gave us the giggles in the first place so we all felt that we had to go in. It was a karaoke bar and looking back on it we were the only white people in there, had I actually realised that at the time I’d have felt SO uncomfortable. Oh well. It was all rather amusing.

Chloe and I managed to do our washing when we got home, I mean putting it in the machine, nothing more than that. I have no idea how Chloe was managing to walk, all I know was that I was a pretty good support! None of us had bad heads in the morning and so we headed on to New Orleans.

I had sooo been looking forward to going to New Orleans after hearing so much about it and being so highly recommended by Jim, my neighbour at No 55 (Faulkland Road – Farts). Well, all I can say is that we went on a weekend and so everything was pretty packed. That was not so much the bother but I think that we must have gone to the worst part of town as we ended up in Larry Flynt’s Hustler Bar (on Bourbon Street). Enough said I think. Chloe and I were none too impressed with the lads to put it mildly. I don’t think that they seemed to understand that we see enough of our own everyday, we certainly don’t need to pay to look at other people’s. I think that they thought that it was funny. I can laugh about it now, but I CERTAINLY couldn’t then. We were waiting to go and the boys promised me that we would go on to a proper club, not that that is really my scene either really but DEFINITLY more so than the Hustler club. We never made it; they wanted to go into a place called Big Daddies which was even more tasteless than the Hustler, if you could get much worse. I put my foot down and walked away as I really felt that they were being more than a little selfish. They also had the audacity to say that they would never take their girlfriends or sisters (if they had them) to a place like that – made us even more angry I have to say. They had said at the beginning of the evening that we should all stick together and not to worry as they would look after us as it was really crowded I was concerned about loosing Chlo in the crowds etc. To me it is just one of those things but it is really hurting Chloe as she has paid for the car pretty much and they are totally taking advantage of her. She spent a lot of time in tears when we made it back to the hotel and I was ready to go hell for leather at them. I was also severely gutted not to have experienced anymore of the city that I had spent such a long time looking forward to visiting. My lasting memory of New Orleans will never be how I had wanted and even better was that the following morning we were on the hunt for the bloody trainers for Simon so there really was no other side to New Orleans that we saw at all sadly. AND thinking about it I let them go to a fish restaurant & they all had seafood & I was really sick in the loos from the smell/ possibility of having something that shouldn’t have been in my battered & fried courgettes (pretty much the only thing on the menu that I could eat/stomache).

Anyway. We didn’t get to the NASA Space Station in Huston like we planned as it bucketed down with rain, a nightmare to drive in. Also we spent a lot of the day driving around town trying to find shopping malls where the boys could get some trainers that they wanted. When we found it they had not even got them! It was whilst trying to find the blessed shops here that Simon’s now classic line of ‘where is your establishment located?’ was said which had us in fits and I’m sure will do so for sometime! But a serious, you had to be there moment.

Now we are in Austin staying with Audrey, Terry and Hannah. Audrey used to baby-sit for me when I was younger. The others were hoping that she was going to have a few embarrassing stories about me. I am pleased to say that she had none and she also said that I was really good. Tee hee hee! The weather is still bad and we are now on to our second night as they invited us to stay another night which we gratefully accepted. I have to say it is lovely to stay in a proper house rather than an Econolodge! Catching up and so on has been great fun and we have been taken to a few places. We are going to a good steak house tonight for supper; the boys have all been dying for that! I went shopping with them this afternoon (the blokes) and managed to find some good bargains of things that I need back in the UK anyway. I was pretty impressed with my buys.

We move off tomorrow to El Paso for a night or so and that should be good and then we are heading to Vegas for the weekend, it will be mad because it is Labour Day weekend, like last day of the summer holidays and so everyone will be out. The 2 boys go back on Sunday (Bob and Simon). They keep trying to convince Chloe and I that we will miss them, I think not lads! Seeing as we are constantly being called their bitches and gypsies and Barlow’s (as if in Ken from Coronation Street, so boring – it took me a while to cotton on to that one!). I have been given one compliment; well I think that it is, coming from them anyway closest thing to I guess – but that doesn’t say much for me really thinking about it?! That is that I am a geezer bird. Only because I drink beer and follow sports and take about 10 min to get ready for going out.

Right I am off now, I had better go for a run to make some room for my massive steak that I will be having this evening. 3 weeks left now nearly. Golly that feels like a hell of a long time. I am still missing you all madly. Keep in touch. Loads of love and hugs to one and all,

Em

xxx

Em – fab news about the house, it will be quite a hike if I have the location right. It will be ok though. Glad that that is all sorted. I am back at the end of next month.

Row – I am not sure if I will be able to make the party as I have a wedding up in Scotland the weekend before your birthday. I will try though.

Hels – Please pass a message on to Phil – CONGRATS! Have fun. Glad that all is well with you. Update on Eastenders please, you are getting VERY slack!

Farts – I am still not brown – you horrible girl!

Ile – I hope that you are starting to pack, Ani should have given you a message that I tried to call last weekend but that you were not there.

Anca, Lili and Mara – I hope that the Christening went well. I look forward to seeing photos of her, miss you.

Matt – Happy birthday for the first.

Laura – I hope that everything is ok I am still thinking and worrying about you until I hear form you.

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