York Tweet-up

So no sooner was I back from Tunisia than OH and I were on a train hurtling towards York for a tweet-up. If you don’t know what a tweet-up is it’s when all the axe-wielding murders from Twitter you’ve spoken to in sentences of no more than 140 characters meet up in real life and look at their phones whilst sitting next to one another in a pub.

To be fair, these were very nice axe murderers and OH and I had met them all before.  On the first night we met them in a pub called the Kings Arms which is a Sam Smith’s pub and sells all their own brand stuffs (including mixers and spirits) which means it’s very reasonably priced. As it’s on the banks of the River Ouse it often gets flooded and according to the chart at the door the water level was over 6ft in the bar!

I won’t bore yoImageu with the lovely Shambles, the Mins2014-06-21 16.21.54ter and all the pubs we were in but suffice to say Id had a few by the time we went to Flares and I can’t not mention it. Flares is a 80s themed disco. It is reminiscent of all of those clubs you used to go to when you were either almost or just legal in the 80s with your highlighted mullet, padded shoulders, stiletto heels and neon accessories. It was brilliant and awful all at the same time. Thankfully the floor was far too sticky to sit down and dance to “Oops upside your head.” To be honest I’m not sure how I got home but it was a great night!

One of the highlights of Saturday was a visit around the York Brewery. When we arrived we were given tokens, which we could use to sample the different ales they had on offer that month – they have core beers that are always on draught and on top of that they have specialty ones that are just for the month.  We all had one before the tour and left 4 to have afterwards. Each token was worth a third of a pint. The ales were Guzzler, Terrier, Decade, Velocity, Final Whistle and Centurion’s Ghost Ale. All the ales were very different. The one called Decade smelled of grapefruit and tasted lovely but I was glad I only had a third of a pint. The Ghost Ale had a chocolate flavour to it and was the strongest but for me it was a toss-up between Guzzler and Yorkshire Terrier.   I’d recommend the tour which is very short and informative but mainly because sitting in what looks like your nan’s front room afterwards trying to pick a favourite is a great way to pass an afternoon. Especially if the chat is good, which it was.

As there was a mix of English and Scots we got into the nuances of dialect and colloquial phrases. Matt, one of the English contingency, pointed out when the Scots say there’s a wee chap at the door it’s not necessarily a small bloke but someone knocking. The Scots reply was “but if you don’t use the word chap like that what do you do when you can’t go when you’re playing dominoes?” Like a double zero the English faces were blank.

Matt went on to say that a long lie isn’t an elaborate untrue story to a Scot but the chance to stay in bed for an extra hour. Well that’s it, I’m never moving to England if you can’t get a long lie!

However, what killed me was when he started talking about the language you need to learn to be able to order from a fish and chip shop in Scotland. “No matter what time of day it is, whether it’s morning, noon or night, if you want chips with your fish it’s a supper! AND if you don’t want chips with it you’ve to ask for a single fish. THEN, if you want two fish you don’t ask for double fish, you have to ask for 2 single fish.”

“Naw!” the west coasters immediately shrieked indignantly, “you get 2 fish if you ask for a single!”

Not one of them thought this was odd.

Another random line that made me smile, which came from a conversation about people walking into places was, “Have you got a plaster? I’ve just been stabbed.” I have no words.

After the brewery tour we split up and 3 of us (2 of us being very Scottish) borrowed the other’s open top bus tour tickets and toured the walled city. Well it would have been a shame not to use them again!

After this OH and I found ourselves in Cafe Rouge for dinner and watched the world go by as we sipped red wine. The views were amazing as different hen and stag parties passed by. Women in stupidly high heels with hands out to balance themselves tripped by looking like t-rex on the prowl.  One t-rex passed limping and returned wearing flats and holding an Office bag.

Later that evening we went on The Original Ghost Tour which left from the Kings Arms. It was highly entertaining but I’m not telling you anything about it as you really need to try it for yourself.

After the tour we felt it apt to pay the Golden Fleece a visit, the most haunted pub in York (as seen on Most Haunted). Amazingscary stories were told but unfortunately we didn’t see any ghosts but we did imbibe quite a few spirits.

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If you haven’t been to York before you really need to visit. It’s a wonderful place.

AND if you’ve never tweeted  before you really need to start.

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Tunisia – Safari and Zulus

MiniMe and I decided to go on another excursion. This time we chose to go on the Safari and Zulu night but first I checked the pick up time – it was 12.40 in the afternoon! Result.

It wasn’t too long a bus journey so soon we were wandering around looking at lions and tigers and bears! Oh my! Well there weren’t any bears but there were lots of lions, tigers and porcupines, which I had never seen before. ImageAmazing spiky little sods.

I’m not quite sure why they called it a safari – there were no jeeps, men with guns or stampeding wildebeest just lots of animals in enclosures. I’m pretty sure it was actually a zoo. Quite a good zoo though as we saw lots of big cats and some of them were even in the process of making little cats (I had to hide MiniMe’s eyes at that point). The wildebeests were wandering around at peace and the meerkats were very laid back. Simples. Image

After the zoo we made our way out to the circular Shaka restaurant where we were seated at a table with 3 other couples.

We were then entertained as we ate. I love tribal drumming and I wasn’t disappointed. The Zulus danced and sang and the food just kept coming. There was also water, coke or red wine, which were also unending. I did keep trying to finish the wine but they just kept bringing more.

There was soup and bread to start with. The soup was a kind of broth with pulses and it wasn’t too spicy. Next there was briks – filo pastry filled with potato, egg, parsley and onion. These were followed by a salad. I thought to begin with it had tapenade on it but it wasn’t and therefore I was left baffled with the mixture, which was sludge green and a little vinegary but not too much. Whatever it was I liked it and kept helping myself to more. The next course was chicken and rice, which had been marinated for 24 hours and then the meal was finished off with fruit. The food was excellent and the dancing Zulus were fabulous. At one point I gave  MiniMe my phone and asked her to take a pic of the Zulus. I told her not to shoot until she seen the white of their eyes but she just replied that she couldn’t get that close!   Well, I  thought it was funny.2014-06-17 17.35.16

As the crowds got up to leave and as there was still wine left I poured myself one last glass instead of joining the queue to get out. I very soon had a young waiter asking if he could join me for a glass. I was only too happy to oblige and he hunkered down beside me out of sight of his boss. He then downed the glass straight without taking a breath. He politely tried to chat me up but I told him not to bother as he could have another glass if he wanted. It went the same way as the last. He then kindly told me I could take the rest of the bottle as long as I had a ‘sack’ – of course I did ;p  MiniMe, who doesn’t even like wine, was necking it straight from the bottle on the bus. The journey home sped by – I can’t think why.

Tunisia was a great holiday with MiniMe and we made lots of friends. Bella and Lolly were 2 of them. They were sitting in front of us on the flight there and were in the same hotel as us when we arrived. We soon started chatting  and then meeting up in the dinning room for meals, which lead to the bar for drinks and then obviously on to sharing a hookah….what??? ;p Their company really added to the holiday and, as Cilla would say, we had a lorra lorra laughs.

The waiters also helped make the holiday with their flirty ways and attentive service. One of these waiters was Samir or Sammy as Lolly called him. He said he liked me. I said I was married. He said he wanted to be my ‘frond’. I liked him being my frond because he made me special cocktails and gave me little heart shaped biscuits. One day he just appeared with a cappuccino with my initial shaken in chocolate on the top. On the day we were leaving he drew a picture of himself crying and pinned it to his t-shirt. I think my new frond Sammy wanted a tip. I told him not to chat up tight, married, Scottish women ;p

 2014-06-18 13.47.262014-06-14 18.41.48Back at Enfidha airport and the queues at passport control were still as bad. Thankfully there were no Germans for MiniMe to fall out with but we did learn the extent of what had happened in the toilet on the way over. The bloke that had been smoking had actually blocked up the smoke detector with toilet paper and then flicked his still lit cigarette into the paper towel bin, which had started to burn and had to be put out by the air-hostesses. Apparently we were only minutes away from an emergency landing because of the selfish twat. And his excuse was that he was off his face on drugs and didn’t know what he was doing. He had been allowed into the country (actually managing to miss the horrendous queues at passport control) and permitted to enjoy his holiday. From what I was being told in the queue all he had to do was to sign a form saying he wouldn’t smoke on the way back and he had his lighter and cigarettes confiscated. No-one could say if he had received a huge fine, would be banned from the country or lose his passport.

I like to think karma will catch him up at some point.

Tunisia – The market, the wine tasting and the golf club

Friday was market day in Nabeul, the largest market in North Africa and I had signed Mini-me and I up for it, which was all well and good until I went to pay the deposit and was told pick up time was 6.40 am!!!! So much for being on holiday and long lies. To say Mini-me wasn’t happy is an understatement. She was even worse on the  morning of the trip, missing breakfast and nearly missing the bus too. Saying that, I dont think she would have been too unhappy at having to go back to bed. To add to her misery the bus journey ended up being a 2 hour long one. Oopsy. Thank goodness for Ipods.

Our first stop was at a pottery. The tour guide said there were toilets we could use and when I saw 3 other buses parked outside I thought the tourists must be well catered for. Inside, amongst many clay pots, dishes and coloured tiles there was a substantial queue for the 2 toilets. The most surprising thing about this queue was that there were men in it!  The only other time I have seen men queuing for the loo is at music festivals. That’s where as soon as you notice there are no men waiting to use the urinals but you are standing behind 3 waiting patiently for the portaloo you need to switch queues pronto.

Anyway, there was a woman in front of me and we’d waiting for a good 10 minutes. When her turn came she took one look at it and decided she no longer needed. It didn’t bode well but I battled on regardless. To be fair it was bad but it wasn’t that gross I couldn’t use it. After all, I have definitely been in worse at T in the Park 😉

Outside a butcher shop

Cows head

On to the market and we started taking in the sights and smells (not all good). The stalls were highly coloured and inviting so you really wanted to take your time and look more closely but the high pressure salesmen just put you off.  If you slowed down you were captured. “Just 1 dinar –  I show you. Come see. Just look. You Ingleesh? Scotch? I luf scotch whiskeee. Come see I give you Asda price.” Actually, not all were inviting – the shop with the cows head outside didn’t look welcoming at all.

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Alibaba slippers

Up and down we went through the warren of different products.  Spices, leather goods, dishes, spices, leather goods, dishes, spices…you get the idea. We joined in and did some haggling. I still don’t know if we got a bargain for the red leather Alibaba slippers  (a pressie for OH) but we paid less than half of the original asking price so we didn’t do too badly.

Back on the bus and our next stop was to be a wine tasting. I say wine tasting but it was just really a rabble making a mess and not appreciating anything.  Well come on, you know I like my wine.   My fellow tourists had ate all the nibbles before the wine bottles were even open and the majority thought the sweet rose wine was the nicest. Eh?

What was good though was I was shown how to eat harissa. I’ve only ever used it to cook with before and didn’t think of using it as a spread on a chunk of bread and then drizzling some olive oil over it. Now that was far nicer than the sweet rose wine, which made my mouth look like a cat’s ass! As I was disgusted to see how much red wine was left behind on the table I made sure I had another couple of glasses before I left ;).

Back on the bus and we headed to the Citron Golf  Club for an outdoor late lunch on the lawn, which was lovely as it was all white tablecloths and silverware. Unfortunately, it felt a bit like we had gate-crashed a wedding but I didn’t let the distasteful looks from the old men in their Pringle polo shirts put me off my food too much.

Full of chicken, pasta and salad it wasn’t long before we were heading back to our hotel. The bus journey really let us see the other side of Tunisia where there isn’t all inclusive food and drink but instead building sites, half finished hotels and apartments, acres of olive trees with rubbish strewn alongside, dusty streets with men sitting outside cafes looking just as dusty.  It was a stark comparison to the golf club.  However, one shop sign did make me smile as the owners translation into English said exactly what he sells “PIECES FOR VEHICLES”.

Tunisia – The torture

Mini-me and I got up on our first day in Tunisia and made our way to the dining room. The food was plentiful and varied so I’d say anyone that couldn’t find something to eat had to be Mr Picky from Pickeringham. My favourite bit was the omelette hot plate where they cooked omelettes on demand. Just perfick!

After breakfast it was the welcome meeting – yes they’re annoying, yes you’d rather be sitting next to the pool but you just know if you don’t go to them you’re going to miss something important. So off we trotted to the downstairs meeting room where we heard all about what excursions were available. Mini-Me was only interested in having a Turkish bath or whatever the equivalent was – maybe a Skanes Shower or Monastir Mop-up. Anyway it turned out there were spa treatments available in the hotel so the little one was happy.
Since the hotel seemed to be on its own in the middle of nowhere we decided to go on the Market Fever tour which took you to the biggest market in North Africa, then on to a wine tasting finishing up at a Golf Club for lunch so big one was happy too.

All signed up for the souks we went to look for the spa and met what looked like Jack Black’s Tunisian cousin. He was eager to show us around the hammam and talk us through all the procedures available. The building was very impressive and was obviously purpose built with treatment rooms, saunas, large hot slabs and hydro tables. We were easily talked into buying a package and as we wanted to start our holiday with fresh skin we booked up for that afternoon. Mini-me who is far better at haggling than me managed to get an extra facial thrown in – one for that day and one before we fly off. She gets her skills at haggling from her dad ;p

Skint already, we found ourselves a couple of beds by the pool and relaxed before our afternoon of being pampered. Well I say pampered but there was a fair bit of torture included in the package too but they lure you into a false sense of security before that by giving you your own cute wicker basket containing a robe, slippers, fluffy towel, scrub mitt and locker key and asking you to change.
Guided through the impressive building we then had our robes and slippers taken off us and were shown into the sauna and abandoned. 20 minutes later we were prawn like and almost at the fainting stage. Mini-me spotted a tap and thinking it would be cold water turned it. Almost immediately we were engulfed in more steam as the water hit stone. It was too much to bear so we left the sauna and immediately felt better – but not for long as a cuddly, busty lady stripped us of our bikini tops. I got a chance to witness the torture first as Mini-me was her chosen victim.

We had every bit of dead skin removed from our bodies and some bits which were still attached too! This was not a gentle treatment and I feared she would draw blood as she scoured every inch of my body. She even took great delight in pointing out the skin she had removed – yeuch!

I didn’t know what had happened to Mini-me as she had been whisked away as neatly as my skin. Still topless I was shown to the shower. Obediently I hosed myself down and emerged to be covered in mud. Its an odd sensation standing with your boobs out allowing someone to smear grey muck all over you but it has to be said not an unpleasant one and definitely an improvement on the scrub.

Covered in clay I was then abandoned in the sauna once more. I didn’t even last the 20 minutes this time and emerged sheepish like to be ordered to shower again. My reward for being clean was to get my robe back and a cup of mint tea, which I drank in a room full of comfy settees and cushions.

Just as I had finished my cuppa Mini-me emerged topless from a room with the busty woman who was now wearing a large brown waterproof overall that went down to her feet.

It wasn’t long before I was naked and face down on a long wet table with water pouring down the length of my body. The busty woman then started oiling up my body and massaging my muscles. I would like to say she was more gentle without the scrub mitt in her hands but I would by lying. This woman had stronger hands than a fireman who does one handed press ups for fun. I was pummeled!
When told to turn over I discovered that there was a face guard that had to rest on my throat. Ipatatoooot was supposed to stop me being splashed but it just made me swallow. Lots.

Steamed, peeled, covered in dirt, washed, oiled and mashed I felt exactly like a potato!

Thankfully for our last session we were reunited and Mini-me and I lay side by side (still topless) as we had our final massage, which was relaxing, fragrant and enjoyable. At last the pampering bit!

30 minutes later, and as Mini-me had her facial to get, I left her behind and went back out to my sun lounger to enjoy the last of the day’s sun.

And yes I did remember to put my bikini top on first!

Tunisia – day 1

A couple of months ago Mini-me and I were chatting about holidays and things to do. After a glass or 2 of wine we decided a week in the sun doing nothing except soaking up the sun and drinking cocktails was the definite way forward. OH and her bf weren’t getting an invite – this was going to be a girly, mother ‘n’ daughter sunshine romp! As it was much cheapness it didn’t take me long to book an all-inclusive holiday in Tunisia.

I had to work right up until the last minute as I was oncall and unfortunately ended up having to go out and do a visit grrr. However, as this didn’t give me a lot of time to pack it ended up being a good thing as I didn’t keep putting last minute essentials into my suitcase as I usually do when I have time and room to spare.

Leaving our home town well and truly behind Mini-me drove us to the secure car park next to Edinburgh airport. Although it was £36 to park for the week it turned out to be hassle free and money well spent. As, as if by magic, the screen next to the barrier lit up with our surname (having electronically read Mini-me’s registration) and invited us to take a ticket and then to park anywhere we found a space. We then walked to the nearest bus stop and in less than 5 minutes a bus picked us up and deposited us at the airport. There was no queue at check-in so we skipped ahead to security and with no liquid nitrogen or hidden bombs in our shoes we were allowed through to test as many perfumes as we wanted.Image

Stinking like two expensive hookers but looking like a middle age mum and daughter going on holiday we hit the bar and ordered our first drink of our trip. £9.10 for 2 drinks – roll on all-inclusive alcohol!

Even before we had finished our drinks our flight was being called and before we knew it we were sitting on the flight and ready for take off.

You could tell it was a holiday flight and everyone was gearing up for a fun time as there were people drinking cans of Tennents behind me and women sneaking drink from their duty free stash in front. The pilot soon put paid to this and made announcement involving the illegality of it and the police being there to greet the flight when we landed. It was just a threat at this stage but it ended up being one he had to follow through on because then some complete twat decided to have a fly ciggie in the toilet. Then, when he was caught, instead of putting it out properly he threw it into the paper towel bin and nearly set the plane alight. The pilot sounded really pissed off with his next announcement and obviously the police had to be contacted this time.

Thankfully it wasn’t as ‘exciting’ as it could have been and our flight details didn’t need to be mentioned on the 10 o’clock news!
With hindsight I maybe should have tried to set the flight alight as we may have got through passport control a bit quicker. It was the worst bit of the holiday so far! Everyone was tired, pissed off and short tempered. Including Mini-me who nearly started WW3 when an glammed up old German woman tried to push in the queue in front of her. Mini-me was haivng none of it and put the glamorous granny firmly in her place, which was behind Mini-me.

Eventually, we got to our hotel and were immediately shown to the dinning area where thoughtfully they had left out some bread and salad. Unfortunately, before we got there a swarm of locus descended on the buffet and wiped it out within minutes. Mind you, grated carrot on flat bread turns out to be quite nice when you’re tired and hungry.

We were then given our room key (minus our bags) and off we trotted to see what delights were in store for us. A swan made from towels holding a couple of sweets tried to hide the fact that the room was best described as adequate. Saying that, it was clean and had air conditioning so it was better than some beach hotels I have stayed in.

The bags arrived and we departed to search for the bar. Mini-me was on lager and I decided it was a gin night. We sat til midnight making sure there was consistency in each drink. Happily there were no issues with the free alcohol.