11 May 2014 - I'm back!

Hello again dear reader. This will be the last holiday-related note, as I'm now back in Blighty.

Well - I'm currently sat on the 1003 from London Paddington to Bristol Temple Meads in the final leg of my journey home.

Had a lovely day or so in DC. Darren had said it was all about me (isn't it always?) so we got off to a fine start when we got back to his pad in Silver Spring at 1030pm. Pizza. Hurrah.

Then on Friday we spent the day bobbing about some of my usual DC-based haunts. We kinda had to visit Great Eggspectations for brunch - it would've been rude not to. I had the omelette of course. I didn't want to have the eggs Benedict in case they didn't live up to previous holiday Benedicts!

Then it was on to lovely Bethesda. One of my favourite places. And no trip to Bethesda would be complete without a quick trip to the Apple store. From there we went to Chevy Chase (nearby) for a cheesecake fest at the Cheesecake Factory. And no trip there would be complete without the delicious raspberry lemonade.

Finally for dinner it was Metro to central DC to Gordon Biersch. Crab and artichoke starter to share and a blue cheeseburger. Delish. I even had a cocktail - well it was my last night of holiday after all.

The trip there wasn't without controversy. I saw a beetle climb up a nearby diners back and in to his hair. EEK! Shortly afterwards there was much commotion at his table when he touched the offending insect, and brushed it on to the table. It then took its leave and disappeared on to the floor. I'm pretty sure that it hadn't come from the restaurant - more likely attached itself to him outside (I don't like walking under trees at night in case creatures jump on me - he could have learned a lot from that!).

Then yesterday - a final brunch at Eggspectations and a slightly abortive mission back to Bethesda (attempting to get to le Pain Quoditien - a chain - but I like it) - parking was a nightmare due to all the posh-ers doing their organic shopping, and hipsters visiting the Apple Store. So we scampered straight to the airport. And would you Adam and Eve it - it started raining.

Darren dropped me off (holding my jacket - due to excessive humidity and me sweating) and I checked in. No opportunity to upgrade to Upper. Darn it.

He then scampered back home for Eurovision on his dodgy internet connection, and I guzzled my water (NO LIQUIDS!) and scampered through security. Always makes me chuckle. Having stripped down to virtually vest and pants like PE off of Infant School - there are STILL people with water, perfume and goodness knows what else trying to get through security.. Will they never learn?

As I was ahead of schedule (am now thinking this was Darren's grand plan so he could be back for Eurovision) I kinda had time on my hands at the airport. There's only so many times I can drift round the Smithsonian Museum shop without looking like a shoplifter - so as soon as Frappucino Happy Hour kicked in at Starbucks I was in the queue for my Vanilla Latte frappucino. Sadly it appears that I cannot order in American - as what I was presented with, certainly wasn't what Darren had been ordering for me for the last fortnight. It was a kind of milky slush puppy. Darn.

Before you could say doors to automatic, it was nearly time to board. I tried one last ditch attempt (desperate, moi?) to gain Upper priveleges. Yes there was a seat available! It would cost me $1,300. NOOOOOOOOOO. Premium it was.

As I boarded someone was sat in my seat, so I asked politely for them to move. If I wanted a window seat I would have booked one. Then much hilarity ensues - well after a bad start...... Man gets on late, no room in overhead locker (my sombrero and wicker donkey were taking up all the space), so he tries the Tetris of re arranging bags for his giant carry-on bag. To no avail. Cabin crew were watching very tight lipped. Then he decided to move MY hand luggage! Rude! And of course with the repeated getting boarding pass and passport out and away I'd forgotten to zip it, and before I could say 'don't move it' the entire contents were cascading around the general row 20 and 21 area. See-though bag containing touche eclat and lip balm, box of chewy, duty free, various i-Product chargers and adapters and my travel documents were all over. He apologised once - and I gave him a VERY hard stare.

However I was to have the last laugh.

Seat configuration was 2-3-2 - I was on the aisle of a 2 and he was on the edge of the 3. The seat next to him was empty - so I was rather jealous as it would have been somewhere for me to put my reading spectacles and headphones (generally rip my ears off every time I get up for a wee when I am flying) as well as blanket and pillows. But fate stepped in for me as we were ready to take off. There was a malfunction with the seatbelt extender for a, well let's say extremely large gentleman (less polite would say morbidly obese), further down the plane so he had to wedge his blubber in to that middle seat for take off. The bag bandit had to lean over to make room.

Then after take off the large gentleman took his lard and rather offensive odour back down the plane and bag bandit settled down for the flight. No sooner had the seatbelt sign gone off after take off - the cabin crew were out and about with their ankle banging trolleys (the price I pay for being princess-y about that aisle seat). Bag bandit opted for red wine. Which he then promptly knocked over, all down himself, and all in his seat. I was trying not to laugh and pretended to watch Elysium. And of course on landing large gentleman had to come back. Serves bag bandit right for emptying my hand luggage unceremoniously.

The rest of the flight was quite uneventful. A tasty Madeira Chicken, and about 90 mins kip for me.

Landed a bit early at Heathrow (0630) and whizzed thro immigration. Literally no queue at all at biometric e-border (obvs there was the usual scene of me peering in to middle distance as I have to take my spectacles off and cant quite see where I am supposed to be looking - "Camera One, You're on love!") so I had collected my luggage and was outside taking the air 20 mins after touchdown. Somewhat different to the several hours in Miami. Watch and learn America. Watch and learn.

Heathrow Express to Paddington - arriving a mere 2 and a half hours before my train. Dang. Still there was plenty of time to have breakfast at the Golden Arches and several coffees before hopping on this train (currently we've made it to Reading).

I've had a totally fantastic holiday. Several Segway excursions, many frappucinos (frappucini?), got a great farmers tan, 5 time zones (i think I will be in a coma for the rest of today) and some great cities visited that I've never been to before. Thanks to Darren for sorting flights and accomodations, and to Kelly for putting us up in Miami, and Darrens friends who helped out with last minute itinerary additions. And of course Darren for putting up with me for two weeks (bearing in mind I greeted him with the phrase "I am never setting foot in this shithole ever again!" when we met at Miami airport two weeks ago.

Top tips?
Go for an aisle seat if you're my height
Segways are an amazeballs way to see new places (and end up in casualty if you're not careful)
Drink plenty of water
If travelling to Florida use Tampa airport (3rd best in the world apparently)
Big brunch, no lunch (apart from frappucini), small dinner
Get insider/local knowledge if you can
Use a local SIM card in your mobile device - mine was about £2/day - LOADS cheaper than 'roaming'. And you don't have to rely on wifi.
Make Darren speak to the locals/order coffees - and use your best Radio Four newsreaders voice if you need a favour. The Americans LOVE it.
Use vacuum bags in your suitcase to squish up your clothes so they take up less room (IE if you have a full bag on arrival and then go on a Viv Nickleson-type shopping spree it will end in tears)
Always zip up your hand luggage when putting it in the overhead lockers on a plane.

I hope dear reader that you've not grown tired of my holiday musings (complete with pictures of food), and have at least had a tiny giggle at some point.

Until next time......