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Category Archives: Travelling

If I Won The Lottery Right Now

As I’ve progressed further and further through university, I’ve grown to realise that when I finally do graduate, I have little desire to get a graduate job.

Sometimes when I think about this, I wonder if my whole time here has been pointless. Other times, I argue that if I hadn’t come to University, I wouldn’t have continued to change my life plans until they were where they are at now.

But whichever conclusion I land on, the fact remains that whether I go for a graduate job or not, my main plan to life is to win the lottery.

And this isn’t me just saying I WANT to win the lottery like everyone else. I PLAN to win the lottery. In fact, most of my other life plans are based around it.

Way I figure it, winning the lottery is the best outcome from doing a degree in American Studies; after three or four years of studying a people who built their country around the ‘American Dream’ that encouraged them to pursue a life of freedom and opportunity, what better way to go on than pursuing that dream myself.

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Just imagine that freedom and opportunity you could buy yourself with the £24 million jackpot that’s estimated for this Fridays Euromillion draw.

That’s definitely more money than anyone needs, and unlike some, I wouldn’t object to winning it.

But I digress.

If I won the lottery, I’d play it close to my chest, at least at first. What with my birthday coming up, I’d continue as if nothing had happened for the next two weeks, and get on with work.

On the days surrounding my birthday, I’d have a bit of a shopping binge; until this past year, I realised my clothing choices had grown rather dark and dull, and took to adding some colour to my wardrobe. That quest is still ongoing.

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I’d chuck out all the old shoes I have, and buy different ones for each occasion. With these things, I could easily keep them hidden as well, perhaps only indulging my housemates with my secret millionaire status (and that would mainly be out of necessity).

With my wardrobe successfully updated and my housemates partially in the loop (I would play down how much money I’d actually won), I would go about covering our house costs, and pay off my overdraft, so we wouldn’t have to live with the horribly bleak existence that is life on a student budget. In all these cases, however, I would pay only enough to make things comfortable. I would go for what’s needed over what’s top-of-the-range.

I would get a tattoo, buy some dumbells (which reminds me, I need to cancel my gym membership back in Wales. Oh dear) and perhaps have my teeth whitened. I’ve never been particularly fond of my teeth. Just simple things, that alongside the colourful new clothes would make me feel better about myself.

And then then waiting game would begin. Warning my housemates that I had near exhausted my wealth with the various transactions I had conducted for both mine and their sakes, I would tone down on the spending, put money aside for various reasons, and begin planning a round-the-world trip whilst working towards graduation.

Graduation day would come and go, and I’d try not to go too large during the celebrations, so I could use whatever spare dosh I had saved after paying off my student loan to buy a gift for each of the friends who meant the most of me, and unfortunately were still wracked with debt. Dangerous really, because it could mean by the end of everything I would be hated by everyone I didn’t buy gifts for. “Fuck it, I’m rich!” is what I would declare, as I would start to wonder whether the decisions made with the money had been the right ones up until now. A question for another time.

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With university, friends, and any other attachments shown what they meant to me, I would then wire money to my mother and her boyfriend, my sister, my dad and his kids, before getting on a plane to Europe.

Arriving in Amsterdam, I would do everything I wanted to do last time, but couldn’t on account of being stuck in a smokey haze wandering from coffee shop to coffee shop.

From there, I would perhaps head North, and explore Scandinavia, before heading East, into Russia. Not really sure what I’d do there. Swoon over gorgeous Russian women and get into trouble with the locals, no doubt.

From Russia, I would head deeper into Asia. Milling around China for as long as the Chinese would let me. I would walk the great wall, visit the major cities like Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong, and feast like a king. I would explore the Jiuzhaigou Natural Reserve and climb Yellow Mountain, amongst other things.

Other Asian countries would be a must too. With Thailand, Vietnam and Japan being quick stops before I headed for my final destination.

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And then onto the big one. I would have returned to America, the long way round.

After a quick stop in Hawaii, I would spend a bit of time in California, before heading North to Oregon, detouring through Vegas, of course, spending time in Seattle and Portland.

Heading into Canada, I would judge for myself just how friendly Canadians really are. Having met a couple already, and having received invitations to stay from all of them, I feel like it would be a lovely time to recuperate.

Heading back down through the centre of the States, I would move between the smaller towns, where I would allow myself the chance to wear my Stetson on a regular basis, and assure myself that no one was judging me.

Next, I would head to New Orleans. Hopefully, Mardi Gras would not be too far away, but by now my funds would be considerably diminished, and so I wouldn’t complain whatever the situation.

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“Dump ’em out!”

As a Brit, I really don’t see how yelling that at women works out well.

But whatever. ‘murica.

From there on, I would be on the last legs of my journey. I would head to the Big Apple, stopping in the nations capital, because it would be silly not too really. Once in NYC, I would spend the last of my funds; becoming homeless and living on the streets of New York.

Becoming a drug-riddled mess, I would eventually leave my new street-faring brethren and barter passage to Iceland, where I would hope to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights before the debt, enemies and mistreatment of my body caught up with me.

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I would survive; a changed man. Begging my mother to pay for my trip back to Wales, I would wallow in a pit of despair as I found out that in my absence, my friends had grown hateful of me; their hatred stoked by those I forgot to buy gifts for.

Desperate, I would pray to the Dude, Thor and Santa for a way to make things right, and in their divine wisdom, they would allow me to win the lottery again. I mean, if I can do it once, why not twice, right?

Imagine reading my autobiography after that. It would be amazing.

Other side purchases would include a new phone after I inevitably break this one, and dance classes, so I would have slick moves to match my wardrobe.

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Posted by on January 7, 2015 in Life, Travelling

 

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New Years Detox

When you’re drunk, your true emotions and feelings seem like they’ve been highlighted, so although I was still a little bit drunk when I wrote the first draft of this, most of its words rang true.

I’d been thinking up several witty lines to start off my first entry of the year, but I’ve either forgotten all of them or they’ve become obsolete due to the time that has passed.

But alas; I’m going for it anyway. A summary of everything Stéphane Emrys Moungabio related flowing through my mind as I go into the New Year, with as much potency as it can reflect going into the New Year, a Stephanalysis, if you will:

So I just got back to Leicester earlier, which I’ve been referring to as home the entire time I’ve been in Wales. Truth is, whichever house I’m in, I refer to the other as home. Last year, it was because I didn’t feel comfortable in either space. I’ve warmed up to both now, but it’s still a habit.

I think it may also be because I get bored of places pretty quickly. A few days is enough for me. It’s partly why I want to be a travel writer. I want to remain on the move at all times. As such, my favourite things reflect that goal. I bought a Stetson at Monument Valley which cost me about $96.35. It’s my most prized possession, and although I don’t wear it all that much (cowboy hats in North Wales is a trend that has yet to truly catch on) I would honestly be distraught if anything happened to it. In fact, I don’t really like anyone touching it because I’m doubtful of how well crafted it is.

Along with the hat, my favourite songs are ‘Down in the Valley’ by The Head and the Heart:

and ‘Home’ by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes:

because they remind me of the best weeks of my life, and it pains me a little bit when I think of it because I miss it that much. Ridiculous really; it was just a holiday.

My other favourite songs are ‘Rather Be’ by Clean Bandit and Jess Glynne, who I’m a little bit in love with:

‘Try a Little Tenderness’ by Otis Redding:

and probably ‘Suspicious Minds’ by Elvis Presley:

These three songs cheer me up no matter what mood I’m in.

I also love watching films; particularly Science Fiction and Fantasy; because they are so far removed from the real world. My favourite pastime is going to the cinema. I enjoy nothing more than just sitting in the darkness for a few hours, giving my all to whatever magical story is placed in front of me and forgetting everything that is going on in the outside world.

Because the real world seems harsh and unforgiving. Despite that, I do believe that everything works itself out in the end. It’s why, although I joke about it, I believe in Dudeism. The whole idea agrees with me, and my belief in it has really taught me why spirituality is so important to people around the world.

In fact, my mum suggested I do something special for my 21st, so I’m considering getting the Dudeist symbol tattooed on my arm, because to me, it would be a constant reminder of spirituality, my belief that everything will sort itself out, and that there is no point getting worked up over the smaller things.

She doesn’t know about those meanings, so that idea she doesn’t agree with so much; she doesn’t like tattoos, and knows getting a tattoo somewhere in sight will limit my employment opportunities. But for the aforementioned reasons, I don’t want a prestigious job where appearance is key. Something of that ‘importance’ wouldn’t suit me. As I previously mentioned, I want to be a writer, or a fireman, because I admire that profession. I think I would be happiest just moving from job to job, place to place, in small town America, and writing about my experiences.

It would be difficult though, because it would mean leaving my friends behind for large amounts of time. And I mean really difficult, because I love my friends. They’re the best people in the world. They put up with my stupidity on a continuous basis, and I really appreciate it.

My family are also really important to me. I was honest a couple of hours ago when I told my sister I was really going to miss her going back to University. Especially when I asked who I was going to annoy without her around, and we both named one of my housemates in unison and shared a laugh.

Likewise, my mother is one of the people closest to me. Like my friends, she continuously puts up with my shit, but supports me nonetheless. I probably don’t tell her how much I appreciate it enough, if at all. I should probably start (although she has this blog in her bookmarks, so she’ll be reading this soon enough).

Unfortunately, my family isn’t what it once was, as around Easter of 2013, in one fortnight, I broke up with my last girlfriend, my dog/best bud Raggs was put down and my grandmother passed due to a blunder by a trainee doctor. As such, I don’t trust doctors as much as I used to. There are other reasons, obviously, and I acknowledge there are good doctors out there, but that’s a post for another time.

The world is a lesser place without my gran in it. Her name was Nina Dawson. She was a teacher who took in people that had no place to go. And everyone loved her. One of my biggest regrets is the fact that I didn’t spend enough time with her before she died. In truth, I neglected her a bit, and it was only when I was holding her hand in the hospital, as she looked at me, seemingly oblivious to my identity due to her condition, that I really realised what a mistake I had made.

In my family, besides my mum, my gran was always the one I felt the most connected to, and the fact that she’d seemed to forget me was one of the most heartbreaking moments of my life.

That’s not my only regret, obviously. I’d like to sing Sinatra on my deathbed, but saying I have “Too few [regrets] to mention” would be a huge lie.

But my other primary regret would be the way I’ve made a blunder of my love life mostly due to excessive alcohol consumption. I know everyone my age drinks a lot, and I’m not bothered about that. I just wish I hadn’t ruined my chances with some of the people who, outside of my family, meant the most to me. There is one girl in particular. We have a weird relationship. She’s a close friend of mine, and I care about her a lot. But she made the right decision not going out with me. I made a lot of mistakes, and there’s nothing that can change that. I’m careless. I’m not as smart as people think; I’m just generally a bit of a mess, especially when you review my love life and my phone history.

But reviewing it only gets you half the story, no one knows my faults as well as I do; no one really knows about the cocktail of poor self-esteem, loneliness and general self-loathing that constantly resides in my mind. But if we’re honest, my problems are pretty minor in the grand scheme of things. I acknowledge that people suffer a lot more than me, and I count myself lucky for the privileged life I lead.

As I said before: Dudeism. What will be will be. Life goes on. Things will sort themselves out. No point complaining about it.

In truth, I wasn’t sure if I would post this. When I started writing, it was a means of sobering up and killing time in a long car journey. But I figure I might as well. I get all of this out there, and I’ve done my confessions for the year. In truth I hate telling people stuff about my feelings and all that crap. My friend used to describe me as being a brick wall when it came to emotion, and in truth I was a bit better off that way. But once you open the floodgates…

So yeah. I think that’s everything. Other important points would be that I fucking love anything Ke$ha or pug related.

I’m also digging Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars’ new music video ‘Uptown Funk’:

The song is a bit worn on me now, but the styles and the choreography are beautiful. If I turn out to be half as swish as those gentlemen, I’ll be a happy man indeed! Also loving James Blunt’s most recent album. But I digress. If you want to read about that (although I doubt it), there’s a post on James a month or two back.

But there we go. I’ll be back soon enough with my resolutions; I don’t actually make mine until my birthday. New year for me and all that.

So here’s to twenty fifteen, and my goal of going back to America, the long way round.

 
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Posted by on January 4, 2015 in Life, Travelling

 

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What Do You Call A Fast Cake?

Scone.

It’s not exactly an original joke, I know. I’ve heard it many times before, as I’m sure you have too.

But when I read it off a towel early one morning last week as I was cleaning dishes, it cheered me up just that little bit. You see, I wasn’t looking forward to going back to work. It had been about a fortnight since I had last gone in, and in that time-period I had been away for a week to Amsterdam with a couple of friends. And my attention span being what it is, in that single week my enthusiasm and confidence regarding my job had all but drained away.

But this isn’t a post about work. This post (despite WordPress’ best efforts) is about Amsterdam.

When my friends first floated me the idea about going away for a birthday holiday to Amsterdam, I agreed, but wasn’t entirely sure about how enthused I was. At the time, my conception of Amsterdam was a little ignorant; I believed it to be a simple city where people went only to get blazed. That’s not an entirely inaccurate assessment in a lot of cases, but as the more enlightened of you will know, it’s not the whole story.

And so, when I was discussing the upcoming summer holidays with a friend, and she asked me whether I would be perusing the various museums and cultural destinations after I informed her I probably won’t be having a booze-y week away, I thought she was joking. So I laughed.

Turns out she of course wasn’t joking, which encouraged me to find at least some basic information about the city I was travelling to. It was then that I learnt that Amsterdam was famous for many things beyond the ‘wacky backy’, such as the Van Gogh museum and the Anne Frank House (What? I never read the book as a child. Sue me).

This, coupled with my holiday in the States left me eager to get away again, and excited to visit these various destinations so I could experience another culture different to my own.

Unfortunately, in the end, we spent most of our days getting side-tracked, and none of those places were visited.

Fortunately, I enjoyed my holiday anyway.

For the rest of the post, I’ve decided to split things into three topics that pretty much sum up my experience in the Netherlands. Plus, shows and articles that are set out as a trio like the one to follow usually works quite well. Y’know, kind of like Sun, Sex and Suspicious Parents.

Except this probably won’t be as funny, awkward, or intimate. Although it might make my mum slightly suspicious.

The Food.

I didn’t really branch out in what I ate during our week away. One of the most exotic things I ate was chips with mayonnaise. Clearly, I live a sheltered life…

To anyone else, this would be normal. But for me, it was something special; if memory serves, they dealt out some pretty tasty chips, perfectly complimented my the rich mayonnaise, and tasted as if they had infused some of their passion and effort into them, rather than just sticking them in a deep fat fryer. Or at least, that’s how I like to remember them. At this stage, I’m just romanticising chips, and the reality was probably that they tasted the same as the British variant, but I enjoyed them more due to the rather lovely change of scenery.

Another big part of my diet was waffles. Oh, the waffles. I ate so many, whether they were from the supermarket, the bakery or the sweet-shop across the street from our apartment. It probably wouldn’t be a lie to say that waffles (usually slathered in chocolate) made up about 75% of my diet. It was a rather unhealthy week.

And to round-out our week long binge, the five of us went on an all-you-can-eat ‘pancake cruise’ (although apparently ‘all I can eat’ is six pancakes; turns out I wasn’t very hungry when we got down to it). Why was this particularly memorable? Well, besides the fact that you can get as many pancakes as you can eat in 75 minutes for less than €20, it was memorable because of the toppings accompanying the pancakes.

I like my pancakes with bacon and banana, and perhaps some syrup if I’m feeling particularly decadent, but ham on a pancake never occured to me before. Neither had salami. Or brie. Or minced kebab meat…
Bizarre.

The Coffeeshops.

In the same way that I didn’t branch out in what I ate, I also didn’t really get a chance to branch out in what I did.
For the majority of the trip, we’d spend our time making a plan, visiting a coffeeshop en route to our destination, getting sidetracked, and repeating the process.

And so, as you can imagine, we became pretty well versed in the varying establishment, as we spent a few of our days hunting down one particular establishment that apparently had ‘billiards, hot chess playing local girls and a juice/smoothie bar with a fantastic selection’. We never found it. But some of the places we did visit made up for that.

My particular favourites were Het Ballonnetje, the newer (and better, on account of the more relaxed atmosphere and actual space to sit down) Dampkring, Blue Bird, Dolphin, Picasso and De Tweede Kamer. All of them had a pretty cosy set up, were staffed by friendly locals, and were clearly popular joints for regulars.

The feng shui was appreciated.

The City.

As was the feng shui of the city as a whole. There were a few destinations we did actually make it to, and in our time there, we covered quite a lot of ground. In fact, me and Ross alone made it round most of the city centre several times on our last day with our rented bicycles (which you have to get if you go; easily the best day of my holiday).

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So I may not have done what everyone expected me to do. I may not have checked out the party scene or had my photo taken on the ‘I Amsterdam’ sign, but that doesn’t matter, because whilst we may not have gone to seek out all the major tourist destinations, we probably experienced more of the city on a level that many do not. Because I did visit the Artis Zoo. I did wander through the Red Light District. I did hang out on Vondel Park. I did cycle amongst the locals. I experienced Amsterdam, and thanks to a city where even the most basic of scenes look beautiful, my desire to go traveling and experience everything has only been reinvigorated.

I may do shit-all with my life usually, and the fact of the matter is, I’m not sure I’m quite in that mind-set to get on with what will be the hardest part of my time in the education system, but for now, it doesn’t matter, because as my friend Jagen pointed out when I was telling him what I’d been up to these past few months, I’ve ‘bossed’ my summer.
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Edit: After my blunder with the first draft, I thought I’d just save and double-check everything. Re-reading my conversation with Jagen, I now realise that he actually said I ‘nailed’ by holiday, rather than ‘bossed’ it. Personally, I don’t think that sounds as good, so I refuse to change it.

Deal with that.

 
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Posted by on September 27, 2014 in Travelling

 

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That’s News To Me: WordPress, The Abusive Partner

So I went to Amsterdam last week. Interested? Well, I would tell you about it; I have, in fact; I typed up a whole post on it. I didn’t think it was too bad.

You didn’t read it?

Oh, that’s probably because with two more words to type, I then pressed ctrl-z upon making a minute error. Ctrl-z, which is undo, right?

Wrong, apparently.

Or is it? Because I’m pretty sure I used ‘undo’ successfully whilst I was typing up my time in Amsterdam. It was only when I reached the end that it deleted my whole post.

But that’s no problem. Confusion aside, I remember that I’ve been through this before. I’ve actually written a post about doing this before. Déjà vu; this can all be fixed, right?

Wrong again!

Apparently that only works when you start typing the post from your dashboard. When you start directly from your WordPress front page, there’s no auto-save. Which of course means there’s no draft copy to salvage my work from.

What the fuck. What kind of sense could that possibly make?

Why would you only build auto-save into some of your post-editors? It doesn’t make any sense! It’s not like people write blogs for the thrill that their work might accidentally get deleted rather than published. No one finishes a post, presses publish, and remarks “Phew, close one; almost pressed delete. What a rush!”

And why would you change the commonly used ‘undo’ button into ‘delete all your hard work’? Why, WordPress, why would you do that to me?

You’re like that partner who is very aware of how much better than you they are. Despite the occasional, mostly unnoticeable snide jest, they’re lovely to you in public. But when you’re back at the flat, slightly stressed out, but mostly relieved that you can soon wind down after a long day of work, they come in, and take a big stinking dump right on top of you with all their superficial baggage, accompanied by a torrent of abuse that you’re just not in the right state of mind to receive. But they know they can get away with it, because you’ll eventually come crawling back, due to the fact that they’re way out of your league, and you could never do as well as them again.

WordPress, you manipulative bitch.

You say it’s my blunder, that I should have known how things work before I got involved with you. And maybe, on some level, you’re right.

But joke’s on you! Now I can sit here and start again from scratch, with new knowledge on the workings of your system. I can construct a better, more refined blog post now that I’ve learnt from my mistakes. I can ignore the fact that not including a quick trip to Tesco, I’ve just devoted my whole evening to you since coming home from work, only for you to spit it all back in my face.

So here we go again. What’re you gon’ do?

*Stares at screen hopelessly*

*Sees ‘Draft saved at 8:55:24 pm’ flash tauntingly at the bottom of the screen, like a subtle “Fuck You”*

*Starts crying*

 
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Posted by on September 18, 2014 in Life, Travelling

 

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Sitting on the Porch: My America Playlist

Towards the end of my trip, I found myself sitting on the chair outside the front of the hostel, listening to music and watching people go by, as I was becoming increasingly aware that soon enough I would be back in Britain.
Despite being unaware of how much needless hassle I would encounter in my native country, I was still pretty down about the eventuality that was coming. The music helped, as it always does, and so here are twenty of the songs that I’ve been listening to that have partially embodied my time in America.

Main Playlist. Part One.

England – The National. The first video I’m going to put down is actually a commercial; in part because seeing this commercial a lot on the first few days of the travel is what drew me to the song and strengthened my idea to be a travel writer, and in part because the piano playing is the best part of the song altogether.

Riptide – Vance Joy. I’ve always thought of this as a general feel good song. At least, I did do before I watched that video. Jeez. Anyway, this helped build my anticipation, due to my ignorance as to how dark they intended for it to be.

Counting Stars – OneRepublic. The anticipation was continuing to build. A track that I had been listening to before I got to America; it made the plane journey a tad more bearable, and got me hyped for my three weeks away.

All of Me – John Legend. Big city life. Sitting on the Metro, travelling from Oakland to San Francisco. It became a routine, and reminded me of living in London again. This was the start of my trip, getting to know America, the city of San Francisco, its people, and all their ‘perfect imperfections’.

Lost in my Mind – The Head and the Heart. It’s always fun trying new things. I’d become comfortable in this new country, and was content to just wander aimlessly and find everything I could.

Budapest – George Erza. New experiences. New friends. The hustle and bustle of the city.

Dirty Paws – Of Monsters and Men. This playlist is telling a story, and no song is more dramatic and rich in its telling of the tale than this one. This is the end of part one.

Main Playlist. Part Two. 

Home – Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes. So we’re sitting round the table, drinking beer, each choosing a song to play, and this comes on. I haven’t heard it in years. I’m already two weeks into my holiday, but this is my first night at the hostel. It signals the start of my second part of my trip, and perhaps the beginning of my true travelling experience. It’s easily my most listened to song on my playlist.

Fake Empire – The National. Five twenty-somethings driving through a scenic forest atop a mountain after a day of exploring. Like something out of a movie. Long-distance shots follow the car as it twists and turns around bends and past spectacular views. This song playing in the background. No one talks. They just sit back and take it all in.

What I Got – Sublime. Paired with Fake Empire. Still on the drive, but people are no longer content to just sit back and listen. The three Americans start rapping along. They love it.

Let Her Go – Passenger. Staying in hostels, you meet some great people. But whenever you meet great people, there are always those that stand out to you more than others. I’d only call it a crush in the most basic of ways; someone who I thought was funny and attractive, and would have liked to get to know more, but alas; the journey had to end some time.

Ho Hey – The Lumineers. But don’t worry, this isn’t going to turn into a soppy post about a girl. No, although there are a few love songs on here, cringe-y as it may be, many of these make me think more about the country and the experience of travelling as a whole.

Mykonos – Fleet Foxes. Ever seen Due Date? I knew as soon as I saw it that when I eventually made it to the Grand Canyon, this would be the song that I thought of. And I was right. I was with others, so I thought it would be too rude to whack in my headphones, but regardless, I could hear the song just as clearly in my mind.

Many of Horror – BIffy Clyro. The Grand Canyon marked my last day of the trip, it’s been a good few weeks. I’ve got no more money or plans, but it’s definitely been worth it.

Skinny Love – Bon Iver. This was the end; I didn’t add this on until the last few days.

Goodbye America.

Demons – Imagine Dragons. I’ve never actually watched the music video for this before. Put’s things in perspective.

Human – The Killers. Regardless, back in Britain, I needed something to pick up my spirits, especially after the events of the last post. Goddammit Mobilephonesdirect.

Down in the Valley – The Head and the Heart. Makes sense I suppose, back in the valley. ‘These are the places I will always go’, but that won’t stop me from setting off again next chance I get.

Bonus Tracks. 

Ghost – Ella Henderson. This kept on creeping into my various playlists; I think I added it by accident and then started to like it.

We Are One (Ole Ola) – Pitbull, featuring Jennifer Lopez and Claudia Leitte. Not quite fitting with the rest of the playlist, but when I started my journey I was subscribed to the Top 100 Songs on Spotify playlist, and as such, became rather familiar with this track.

It reminded me of one of my last trips overseas; Morrocco. The hotel we stayed at played Pitbull and J-Lo’s last hit to excess, and it became somewhat of a theme tune to my holiday. Coincidental timing then.

Plus y’know; the world cup was on throughout my stay in America, so it’s fitting.

 
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Posted by on July 14, 2014 in Travelling

 

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Back in Britain: Should’ve Stayed in America

So yesterday I left the hostel in America and headed to the airport.

The Troubles Begin

Apparently, it was foolish to believe that Flagstaff was run like literally every other airport I’ve been to, as arriving two hours early, as is usually suggested, I found out that not only were hardly any of the staff there, but also that tickets and baggage checks didn’t even begin until half an hour before the flight took off.

So there I was for an hour and a half, having missed my chance to say goodbye to the majority of my new friends in Flagstaff.

Knowing it could be worse, I ignored that saddening fact and focused on getting home.

A Few More Hassles

So we fly to Phoenix, where the next plane explains that we will be delayed because it’s going to be a turbulent ride, and the computer system has just given out. He continued to list the various problems with the plane THAT WE WERE ALREADY ON and convinced me more and more than it would have been safer to combat immigration and just stay in the United States.

But we eventually leave, and I convinced myself that I was being foolish about not wanting to go home in the slightest, and things will pick up.

The Calm Before the Storm

So we arrived in Charlotte; everything was fine.

I got on the plane to Manchester; kind of tired, but still mostly alright.

The flight was long, but my weird love of plane food was enough to raise my spirits ever so slightly.

I slept on and off for a little under three hours, and caught the end of Avengers Assemble; now convinced that everything would be okay when I got back to Britain. I mean, the sun was out! How much worse could things get?

The Troubles REALLY Begin

A lot worse.

Before getting off the plane, my troubles were mostly just minor irritants mostly focused around my emotions.

Arriving in Manchester, I was held back as the guard closely examined every piece of I.D. I own, because my passport is every so slightly split in a corner, and he believed I might be a perpetrator of identity theft or something like that.

Eventually, he let’s me leave, as I ponder the ‘What ifs’ wherein they may have sent me back to the States for trying to ‘sneak in’ to Britain. Although the more likely option is that they would have arrested me.

After getting out of Manchester station, I thought I’d get a haircut somewhere where people are actually used to cutting black peoples hair (e.g. not North Wales), and gave the man £10 out of my £29 in cash. He didn’t quite give me the cut I want, giving me 0.5 back and sides rather than a fade.
“Whatever” I tell myself, “It doesn’t look bad at all”.

As I set off, I realise that my new treasured hat is slightly loose and liable to blow off now that most of my hair is gone.

With one hand at the ready to grab for my hat in case of a breeze, I headed back to the station, starting with £19, only to get there and only have £14.

The train home is £16. The bus afterwards a further £5.

But I felt sweaty and disgusting, and I really wanted to get home. So I checked my bank account, only to find my last £60 has been taken by EE, subsequently pushing beyond the limits of my overdraft.

Stuck with no money or hair (except the small cut pieces that are sticking to my sweaty face), I headed to the nearest EE store; certain there must be a mistake, as I’ve not even been using my sim card for my period in America.

There’s no mistake, and apparently I’ve spent over 80 minutes on the phone with a number whose owner’s name the lady at EE is not at liberty to give.

I was on the phone to these people for over 80 minutes! Hiding their identity from me isn’t giving them privacy, it’s just being an awkward twat.

So I wondered… ‘Who on Earth could I possibly have spent 80 minutes on the phone to, who isn’t a close friend?’.

At first, I think “no one”. I’m never on the phone to anyone longer than 10 minutes. I’m more of a text-er.

Then I realise. It was those fuck-wits at Mobile Phones Direct.

Dear mobilephonesdirect.com

In case you don’t know, I recently started a contract with a company called Mobile Phones Direct.

Initially believing them to be conning me, I called EE for validation. Which, I’m man enough to admit that I shouldn’t have done; and should have gone straight to the people I bought the phone off instead, as my solution would only have led to more problems.
Resolving the initial problem, EE sent me a working sim card; not telling me what they had actually done was cancel my contract with ‘M.P.D’, and just took me on as a customer.

Instead of getting in touch with me to sort out this problem, M.P.D waited over a month to call me, by which point, the only options were to either give them the phone back and buy a new one (£200) or cancel my ‘new’ contract with EE (£300).

So I bought a new phone. Obviously. They then complained that I had not sent them the accessories after I had already told them that the charger broke as soon as I took it out of the box, and I don’t even remembering getting headphones.

Why I wasn’t suspicious with this company sooner I’m not sure…

Throughout this period, despite having my new phone number, they insisted on calling my house number, meaning I had to call them from my mobile, being in Leicester, which of course incited these numerous charges to my account.

Then, this morning, I got another e-mail from a different member of the company asking the same questions I’d answered a month ago, because for some reason these people don’t feel the need to communicate with one another.

I suppose what I’m basically trying to say is…

DEAR MOBILE PHONES DIRECT,

NEXT TIME YOU HAVE A QUESTION, MAYBE SEE IF SOMEONE ELSE HAS ALREADY ASKED ME THIS COUNTLESS TIMES ALREADY.
THEN, REGARDLESS OF THE ANSWER:
FUCK OFF.

SINCERELY,

STÉPHANE EMRYS MOUNGABIO

p.s. I’m starting to hate you more than TalkTalk, and I fucking despise TalkTalk.

Jumping off the Grand Canyon would’ve have been more pleasant than having to deal with these lot.

So now I’m sitting in Manchester drinking alone and watching the people go by, as the Hawaii Five-O theme plays in the background.

It’s been the highlight of the past 24 hours. I miss America

 
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Posted by on July 10, 2014 in Life, Travelling

 

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USA, Day 21: The Grand Canyon

My last day was kind of spectacular, it wasn’t as spectacular as I’d hoped, but none the less, it was a fairly good one.

Having a quick breakfast, and chatting with a few of the other guests, I was introduced to the girl who gave me and Johnny all that fancy food the day before. It’s a shame she was leaving soon after, because my first impression of her was a good one.

Returning to my perch out the front of the hostel, I waved her and her sister goodbye, once more plugging in my headphones and typing out yesterdays rather mediocre post.

An hour passed, and I reunited with Fred and Mike to head off to the Grand Canyon. Struggling to stay awake, the journey seemed rather difficult and drawn out, but when we got there, I was in for the sight of a lifetime.

I knew the Grand Canyon would be big. It’s in the name after all. But even so, it was a truly amazing sight to behold. It was vast, majestic, terrifying and utterly incomprehensible.

After taking in its beauty for a couple of hours, we returned to the Grand Canyon Village and watched the World Cup game.

I’m sure you know what happened; it was a massacre; we don’t need to talk about it. Frankly after the first three goals I became more concerned about my steak sandwich; the envy of every man on our table. Granted, there were only three of us, but that’s unimportant.

Returning the the hostel through a scenic but monsoon-wracked drive, I sat down and uploaded all my adventures on to Facebook.

It saddened me a bit, because I knew as soon as I did that my holiday was over.

But there it is. Finishing off my night with a beer and some macaroni cheese balls, I chewed the cud with some friends; discussed future travels, and went to sleep.

So that’s it. The end.

(Not of my blog, just my American adventure, so don’t go anywhere!)

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Posted by on July 9, 2014 in Travelling