Stops 7, 8 and 9: Nice, Diano Marina and Cervo

I’ve left sunny old In-ger-land!!! And before I knew it I’d passed through 2 countries. I was quietly excited about going back to Italy as I used to live there for 18 months so it was like going back home, plus I could see how rusty my Italian had gotten…

I flew into Nice at 8 in the evening. On the bus to the town centre (which cost six bloody euros!!!) I got a phone call from a random English number asking me where I was. After shitting myself for 4.3 seconds I finally realised it was my mate Matt (Triple M) calling me saying he’d meet me at the station (If you aren’t aware, me and Triple M have 2 weeks to get to Athens, so naturally we are going the romantic route and seeing everything lovey-dovey…)

Matt was there. We hugged and swapped terrible jokes as we walked down the road to the hotel. Then I sat in our palace on the internet because that’s what cool people do nowadays instead of physically going out and seeing stuff. We then had our only French meal of the evening. As we were in France I thought we’d make the most of the famous French cuisine and headed straight to KFC…

We got there and I thought I’d show off by ordering my food in French. How hard could it be? I got a D in French and everything! Bring on the French bitch!

French Bitch: <something French that was vaguely similar to “Welcome to goodburger, home of the goodburger, can I take your order?”>

Me: Bonjour! Je vous drais deux double fillet meal sil vous plait. <then proceeds to admire the hammer I’m holding because I absolutely fucking nailed it…>

French Bitch: <Proceeds to rap the entire first verse of Eminem’s ‘Rap God’ in French. Or that’s what it sounded like…>

Me: <Looks in pure panic> Erm… That’s me done! (referring to my level of French being reached)

French Bitch: Pardon? (In sexy French accent)

Me: <Has mild heart attack…>

French Bitch: <switching to English> Would you like any sauces at all?

I look at Triple M and he’s laughing at me with a look of saying “At least you tried!” We’re making memories already…

Day two was Diano Marina time! We headed out to the train station after abusing the free hot drinks at the hotel to find we’d just missed the train and had to wait an hour for the next one. Not an issue, except for when we got to our changeover at Ventimiglia we missed our connection by 30 seconds. Not only that, the next train was in an hour and a half away!

We finally got to the Hotel Delle Mimose at 4:30 and were greeted by Christian. He told us he was off to samba class in the evening (you may have guessed by that sentence that Christian is half Italian…) so we wouldn’t see him, but it didn’t matter because we found two buckets, filled them half way with water and played a variation of beer pong, with the loser buying the round of drinks.

I won (suck it!) so Matt got the drinks. I got him to order in Italian saying “Io voglio comprare tua ragazzi, quante costa per la ragazzo” which roughly translates as ‘I want to buy your children, how much is the boy?’ Christian looked intrigued half way through the sentence and we all had a little titter.

Evening time! I used to live in Diano Marina many moons ago so I knew the best places to eat, so I took Matt straight to ‘The Macaroni’, where they do super heavyweight portions of world class pasta for around €10 each. We destroyed our victims and felt like we’d conquered Europe by doing so…

Day three! Cervo and optional extras. My favourite place OF ALL TIME I’ve been to so far is Cervo. Why you may ask? Yes you may, Cervo is an old, untouched village with steep, windy, cobbled streets and a church bang in the middle. Basically, it looks like something out of a Disney film. Here’s some pictures to stare at and shit…

Then we went back and had a couple of slices of pizza before going back to Mario’s. Mario’s was the bar I used to go to all the time and whenever friends or family came over, or I met people in the town who wanted to see Diano Marina properly, I’d always take them there because he’d never disappoint. He remembered me instantly. Not only that, he remembered what I usually drink. Nine years, now that’s impressive! He made me and Triple M some cocktails and they were insane in the membrane!

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Me and Mario at his bar. I reckon I need a haircut…

And that was it! Actually no it wasn’t, Christian asked us to join him for lunch so we got to sit at the captain’s table. I felt so upper class! If you do go to the Delle Mimose I recommend the chocolate souffle for dessert. It was double digits out of ten.

Now that’s it! Christian was a great host and I couldn’t thank him enough. I may see him again if I don’t find work in Greece and get some teaching or hotel work somewhere in Italy, but if not I’m sure it won’t be another 10 years until I see him again. Next stop will be touristy stuff around Italy and me trying to speak my Borat standard Italian. Great success!!!

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100 follows!

Thank you for everyone who has chosen to follow my blog. 100 follows may not seem like a lot compared to some of these blogs out there, but considering I have never done any advertising and everyone who has followed my blog has done so on their own accord, I consider this a monumental achievement! And for that I thank all of you for following my crazy escapades, from teaching in Thailand to getting touched up by a monk to publishing my fourth book before my 30th birthday to travelling around Europe. Heres to the next 100!!!!!!!

Stop 6: The Isle of Wight: reffing, drinking and effing…

Torquay was a well needed boost before my big bad trip, and as much as I hated leaving a certain Cosgrave behind, I was well chuffed at hitting the last leg of my England tour.

I nearly missed my connection; I fell asleep on the Westbury-Southampton train and woke up in Southampton station. I shot up with my bags and was blocked by a load of people on the train and luckily when I asked them bluntly to move (I was still asleep) the bloke by the door hit the button straight away and I made it to the harbour.

The ferry was £25 return. I got some cracking photos and was greeted by my mate Luke and his girlfriend, then he drove me back to his mum and dad’s house.

They recognised me straight away. I think it’s because I have long hair at the moment and when I met them nine years ago when I was living in Italy I had long hair as well so they welcomed me with a roast dinner and three whole desserts. They must have known I was going to write about them…

Then me, Luke, his girlfriend and his brother Adam went out for a couple of drinks swapping stories. We went to some random place that looked like it should have been busy but it wasn’t, so we pretty much had the place to ourselves.

I was woken up the next morning by Luke and Adam’s parents (Ju and Abu) leaving a cup of tea and toast with jam outside my door. I’m not going to lie I did contemplate abandoning my Europe trip, finding a job in the Isle of Wight and paying them rent when that happened. Then 4 of us (me, Luke, Adam and girlfriend of Luke) went sightseeing around the island.

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First stop: Needles. Mainly a few beautiful cliffs with a bit of a touristy style attraction to it. We also went to watch people make glass vases (as you do…) before heading back to the house via a few villages taking the scenic route.

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Lunch: Spag bol: I don’t think any more needs to be said about that…

Fun fact (Probably not for you but I’m going to tell you anyway because I think it’s cool to act like a dictator…): Abu used to be a ref; a quite high up ref in fact. He got as high as being the fourth official for Aston Villa vs Man United when Mark Bosnich played for Villa. So that afternoon me and Adam went to watch Abu ref a local game, as he is still active and respected in the community.

The match was OK in the first half, the reffing was spot on and as someone who has been interested in getting into refereeing one day I was pleased that I not only had a chance to watch someone who reached the top of his craft do what he did best, but have a similar outlook as to how to run the game.

The second half didn’t go so well; Me and Adam missed the first 15 minutes of the second half because we massively misjudged how far it would be to get a drink from the nearest co-op, but by then the game was out of control. two players had already been sent off and a few bookings had been handed out as well. Towards the end he’d given another second yellow to someone for dissent (Yep, it was that bad) and the abuse he received made me think twice about becoming a referee. Even Abu said as we were going home that the abuse is so much worse than it used to be.

That evening me and Adam went out to the town to watch a singer who looked like Barry from Eastenders. We walked out after 5 minutes to see what else was going on. More drinks and funny reffing stories followed at Wetherspoons when we bumped into Adam’s dad. Then we had a world class burger on the way home.

And I hit the 50,000 word mark on my book at this time. BEST IN THE WORLD!!!

Then it was time for me to leave the island. I’ve had some amazing luck in terms of how people have treated me so far on the trip and the bar had been set high when I went to the Isle of Wight, however there was no way on earth I could fault the hospitality towards me. If I had to descrbe them in three words it would be “What lovely people…” With a heavy heart I said goodbye knowing full well nothing I could have said would have been sufficient enough to express how grateful I was, then I hopped back on the ferry to Portsmouth.

BONUS BLOG BIT KIND OF: GREAT SOUTH RUN

I had accidentally timed my flight to Gatwick perfectly, because I got a chance to witness the great south run as I waited for my train to Gatwick from Portsmouth harbour. It was inspiring; there were blind runners, disabled runners and runners over the age of 75 competing, with a high majority of them running for charity. I wonder if a marathon of some sort will be on my bucket list in the future. It might be, but I’m not considering in right now.

And that’s England done I’m afraid! Next stop: Nice, France and possibly a bit of Italy thrown in if we don’t do a lot in France.

Who’s ‘we’?

Oh yeah, me and my mate Matt (Triple M) will be attempting to get from Nice to Athens by land in 2 weeks. Wish us luck!

Stop 5: Torquay, a well needed rest up before the big trip…

I’d been manic flying around the country for the last few weeks and was really looking forward to spending time with my family for two and a half weeks before heading off to Europe and finding out if I can make a life for myself in that part of the world as well…

Unfortunately for me most of my family left a few days into the trip. They had surprised my 10 year old cousin with a secret birthday trip to Disneyworld. I remember having breakfast with him wanting to scream “AMERICA!!!” in his face, as he was so oblivious to what was going on. Then he had a tantrum because he didn’t want to leave my nan’s house. It was so difficult not to say “We go to America…” like stereotypical immigrants in 90’s films…

So they left, and I was in Torquay by myself. Well, not totally by myself; My family have a small business down here and of course when that happens you get roped in to do free labour. So I spent the first week washing plates during the dinner service, and the second week covering on the bar to make sure everything ran smoothly. It sounds like I was doing a lot but in reality I’ve been turning radiator dials, changing light bulbs and pouring drinks until the early hours of the morning. I’m chuffed that I’ve still been able to write my books as well.

Wow, it took you a minute to start plugging your books, have you no shame?

What? This blog is about my travels and my books, and I’m keeping everyone up to date

Whatever helps you sleep at night… Go on then, finish what you were saying about the book and I’ll politely smile and nod until you’ve finished your plug…

Wow… OK I’ll make it quick then; I’m nearly 50,000 words in and have sent the fifth part to be critiqued. I’m hoping to finish this little nugget by the end of 2016 and after I’ll be celebrating by miming the trumpets in ‘Talk dirty to me’ by Jason Derulo

You done? I was doing a sudoku while you droned on…

Not yet, I also met a really cool girl at work who said she would download the books and let me know what she thought of them.

Hold on, that’s got my attention! What did she say? Was she brutal? I hope she was brutal… Did she use the words ’embarrassingly poor’?

No she didn’t! I don’t know why you think my books are so bad as they actually are really good!

Yeah but you have to say that for promoting them and shit…

Trust me if they weren’t brilliant I’d tell you because I’m my own biggest critic, but even though I’m incredibly harsh on myself I still know deep down that they are excellent, it just I’m not good at getting them out to the masses. If I could, then I know for a fact I would never have to worry about money ever again.

Ooh, confidence. I like it! So what did she say?

She said she really liked it! Of course I’m not that arrogant to think I’m the best in the world at what I do and am always looking for pointers to improve my writing so people enjoy them more. That’s why I’m always sending them to people I know will be harsh on me for constructive criticism. But when it’s someone I don’t know I’m always quietly anxious to find out how they will react as they have no connection with me and can be as blunt as they like. I hope she downloads the others and enjoys them just as much as she enjoyed The Butterfly Killings.

OK that’s enough book time! What else happened at your family’s business?

Some Scottish guy was aggressive to the staff for no reason and it was winding me up. It was his turn to have a go at me and my back was already up because of that, and he began shouting something about the buses in my direction. You know how this blog works by now so here’s the dialogue that you’ve all been waiting for:

Me: The town centre is a ten minute walk down the hill

Who’s Afraid of The Big Bad Scot?: Well that’s not good enough! It’s too far for me to walk!

Me: Well there’s a bus stop fifty metres down the road if it’s too much for you.

Who’s Afraid of The Big Bad Scot?: Fifty metres? That’s terrible, it should be closer than that!

Me: <saying very little, but thinking there’s not many bus stops that are closer than 50 metres to be fair…>

Who’s Afraid of The Big Bad Scot?: Do I have to walk up the hill 50 metres then?

Me: Yes I’m afraid you do

Who’s Afraid of The Big Bad Scot?: This place is ridiculous!

Me: <Beginning to get irritated> I’m very sorry, I don’t control the hills

Who’s Afraid of The Big Bad Scot?: <stares through me>

Me: If you really are struggling you can always get off at the next stop and walk down the hill, but I think it’s more than fifty metres away

Who’s Afraid of The Big Bad Scot?: Oh…OK… That’s all

He then was bitching later on that evening that he couldn’t reach the buttons on his TV. I pointed out that they were easy to reach and he said that he could reach the main button but not the others…they were less than ten centimetres to the left of the main button. I then stood in disbelief and said “I literally don’t know what to say…” He then shouted that he was never coming back and I smiled saying “Great!” And walked away. Some people are looking for reason to moan and I’d rather focus my energy on people who want to have a good holiday.

And finally I left Torquay with a new friend; It was a girl I’ve met before who works at my family’s business but I’d never really spoken to her before now apart from the generic hello here and there. My anxiety was shining through and I didn’t really speak to her at first, but one day I got really drunk and came out of my shell, and after that we were both relaxed around each other. She said that she’s going to travel through Europe next year so I’m looking forward to catching up with her in whatever country I end up in. It’s been a while since I felt comfortable around someone, especially a female, so it felt great to not have to feel nervous and just let the conversation flow. I’ll definitely be keeping in touch with her every so often to she how she is getting on.

Aww, bless… I bet you bombarded her about your books as well.

I did actually! And she’s reading the pornstar book as we speak so that’s another opinion I’m going to get from an unpublished book. She better not cross my name out and publish it herself…

And that’s it really. I did a lot more but if I tell you about it this post will be an hour long! I saw a lot of supportive friends who I haven’t seen in years and that positivity was just what I needed in terms of a boost before venturing into the unknown. Isle of Wight next, then off to Europe to meet my mate Matt. That’s if I can find him, as I’ll be flying in in the evening and will be shouting his name around Nice until he shouts back “Over here!”…

Stop 4: Bristol, cousinly bonding playing Peggle 2

Coventry was fun, I wish I stayed longer but I’m sure most people say that about every place when they are in travel mode. The next stop was seeing my cousin for the day in Bristol where he now lives, see what the city has to offer then hop on the next train south to see more members of my immediate family.

My Coventry to Birmingham train was late, I thought this was going to mean I would miss my connecting train to Bristol but fortunately on an unrelated note that train was also 20 minutes late so it didn’t affect me in the end.

Winningson Von Legendsworth the third!!! I rocked up to Bristol Parkway and text my cousin, “Yo bredrin; I’m in Bristol with bare shit to carry bruv and you ain’t nowhere to be seen, what’s gwarnin cuz?” (*Conversation may have been exaggerated for dramatic effect…) and he replied “Nah bruv, what you saying? I swear down you are a fucking waste man, I don’t see you anywhere fam” (*Conversation happened word for word…)

After acting like gangsters, or shall I say middle class North London teenagers, We eventually found each other, had a manly handshake and celebrated our interaction with a feast of the KFC kind.

I may have mentioned before that I was planning to do a KFC challenge with someone, this was the someone that was throwing down, only I pussied out at the last minute and said I’d buy him lunch instead because I lost my masculinity somewhere between 2014 and 2015. Only for the fucker to order 8 mini fillets!!! The order came to over fifteen quid for the two of us. Cheers prick…

Then Prickson McMinifillet drove me around in his beast of a car (a Mitsubishi Idontcare 2.0 with something) showing me the town centre. It was amaaazing. So amazing Luther Vandross would have wrote a song about it. We then went to a cider pub and he bought me a sparkling perry (which is kind of like a sweet cider I guess) Which made up for the KFC fiasco, but I’m still going to refer to him as Prickson McMinifillet for the rest of this blog as punishment for molesting my wallet without any intention of calling back or buying flowers the next day…

It was time for me and Prickson to go back to his house. That’s right…House. At least one of us is doing well for himself! As we pulled up to his house we drove past a couple of Mr Mcminifillet’s mates, only for one of them, who shall be referred to simply as Toby…mainly because that was his name…to jump out theatrically at my cousin’s car and accidentally snap off his wing mirror. What an introduction! It worked, because I don’t remember the other guy’s name…

So we grabbed food and chatted to the two stowaways until they ventured off on their own little journey. Then me and Prickson started doing what most educated men do, we got the X-box One out on a projector and played racing games.

I lost. Then my cousin smiled and said he had a game that was the best game ever. He then explained to me in great detail what the game was while it was loading and how to play it. I understood 13% of what he said, so I smiled and said “Kap.” Then I played it, and I hated it. Then I played some more, got a few lucky points and accepted the fact I was going to be the next grandmaster of this game. I not ashamed to say we played until one in the morning, and even then I stayed up for another half an hour to unlock more levels for two player…

We woke up the next morning…Oh wait. I forgot to mention we went on the bridge overlooking Bristol, and a posh pub with a great view. I can’t be bothered to mix this in with the rest of the blog, so let’s just pretend I did…

Wow! This flows so well and is absolutely 100% chronological!

Thank you for noticing how great I am at life. Anyway, More Bristolness; Me and my McMinifilletman went around Bristol again and walked into a pub for lunch. I can’t remember the name but I know it was ‘Dyke’ something because I thought of Dick Van Dyke when I heard the name. Anyway, we had lunch there and it was shit. Mexican Monday it was, and it was £5.25 for a meal and a drink to be fair so I shouldn’t complain, but I will because I’m English and I hate everything…

I had ninety minutes to spare before I had to catch my train, so Prickson McMinifillet smiled at me and said the word that made me fall in love with him forever. He looked lovingly into my eyes and said, “Peggle?”

“PEGGLE!!!!!!!” I shouted back. I was so excited I could only repeat whatever he said. So we drove back in the opposite direction to play more Peggle, set multiple alarms so I wouldn’t miss my train and rinsed Peggle, and it was totally fucking worth it…

And as quick as I’d got into Bristol, I was on my way out again. Cheers cousin for showing me around your hometown and being such a great host. Fuck you for eating over ten pounds worth of KFC. And thank you again for introducing me to my next addiction. So overall I’m going with thank you Prickson McMinifillet! (That’s the last time I’ll ever call you that I swear!) I’ll see you when I come back! Next stop, Torquay, to see family and prepare for my final leg in England before I head off into Europe. Eek, I guess the word I’m looking for is…

Stop 3: Coventry

Watford was fun, going back to my old school for a tour of the new building was also fun as well. The next part of my journey involved heading up to the midlands to see one of my old friends and his family up there.

I arrived at the train station and couldn’t see anyone there. I waited for 20 minutes and started to get nervous. I had them on facebook but had no internet, and they had my phone number but I didn’t have theirs. I did another lap around the train station and as I walked outside I was greeted by my mate’s little sister.

We stared at each other for a second as we recognized each other but we hadn’t seen each other for so long. We then embraced and went to a local pub to wait for my mate Joe.

Joe rocked up, then we went back to his. When we got back we chatted for an hour before his nephew came around and said he was going boxing that evening, so me and Joe tagged along and watched his nephew beast it in the boxing gym…

The next day we all talked about what we could do while I was there. I mentioned going to Bridgnorth but the timing was bad (If I arrived a week later we all could have taken a day trip there). So we ended up saying we could do three things; go to the 50p fair, go to the transport museum and go to an all you can eat buffet.

On the Wednesday it was very busy in the house. There were kids of various ages doing what kids normally do and because of that there were distractions. Regardless I managed to write 2 blog posts and write an extra 1000 words in my book. Everyone had said they had no work the next day and this was the designated day to have a couple of drinks, so I decided to get McSmashed with cheese for the first time in I can’t even remember how long. Unfortunately for me I was enjoying myself a little too much, and somehow managed to drink a whole 350ml bottle of vodka by myself. I don’t remember much about that evening, and I woke up the next day to find I’d sent a couple of incoherent messages to friends and had a horrible feeling I’d done something terrible, the kind of thing that would make your host want to kick you out of their house! Fortunately for me I didn’t do anything that bad even though I was convinced I had…

Hangover day consisted of me feeling sorry for myself, and in the evening three of us (me, Joe and Joe’s sister) went to the 50p fair, which is exactly what you think it is. It was actually really good! I didn’t go on everything because my stomach was obviously a little bit delicate, but I still went on most of them. The rides had a lot of G-Force on them so you couldn’t walk in a straight line afterwards. (…Nah, that joke’s too easy…) and we stayed until about 10:30. We would have left at 9:30 but Joe’s little sister was getting chatted up by some guy on the waltzers, and because of that she went on the waltzers something crazy like 9 times in a row in a quest to find the father of her future children…

The hangover disappeared the next day and we all went to the Transport Museum, which was free to get in. I loved it, but the others had been so many times they kind of wandered through half-heartedly. I spent ages looking at all the vehicles, which included a lot of the old bikes from the old Singer factory, and I was impressed as I carried on to see a lot of old and/or rare vehicles that had obviously been donated over time.

McDonald’s for lunch. Because I can. Give it to me I’m worth it….  (I recommend clicking on this link, it’s definitely…worth it.)

Finally it was the last day, so we all went to Cosmos, which is an all you can eat buffet similar to Global, the one I went to in Watford, only it was a LOT cheaper and had slightly less choice of food, but still had a fair amount. We demolished it and sat back admiring what we had accomplished, only for Joe’s mum to start getting irritated about how many people weren’t talking to each other and instead were on their phones ‘checking in’ and messaging other people, which lead her to shout,

“It’s a shame all these people have their phones ON THEIR FUCKING DICKS!”

I’m not gonna lie, I didn’t see anyone taking dick pics, nor did I see anyone resting their phones on their genitalia, but Joe’s mum must have seen something to upset her. To her credit everyone within earshot put their phones away and started doing what most people do in restaurants. Of course we all laughed and made jokes about people having phones on their dicks for the rest of the time we were there.

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The car used to break the land speed record, which was set at over 760 miles per hour

And that was it really. We all chilled out for the rest of the day and me and Joe watched Match Of The Day (Something I haven’t done in literally years, because of my job in England and living abroad for so long) in the evening before falling asleep.

The next day I left feeling upset, because not only did it feel like I’d just got there, but these people treated me like family and I can’t honestly say when I’ll see them again. Every one of them was so loving and caring towards me and you can’t put a price on that. I said goodbye to all of them with a warm embrace, all except the little sister, who had work all day and didn’t have time to pop down and say goodbye which was a real shame, but I’m sure she knows I was just as happy to see her as I was the rest of the family.

When I first met Joe I used to come up and see him, now the next time I go back there it will be to see the whole family. Hopefully it won’t be another 9 years before I see you all again though! Thanks for looking after me and showing me around Coventry. Next time I’ll try and time it better so everyone has time off work, and we can go to Bridgnorth together…