If you’ve secretly always wanted to know how to go about public sexual humiliation or how to dress like a S&M horse and whinny while pulling some ugly dude around by your mouth, by golly, can I shed some light for you.

Throughout our trip around the US, we’ve unfortunately been a couple of days too early or a week too late for some awesome festivals. I don’t know what fate is trying to tell us, but luckily, we were bang on time for the Folsom Street Fair in San Francisco. Now, we’ve seen a lot of weird shit in our time. I actively seek weird shit out, hell, that’s what I call a good workday, but it’s one thing watching Fat Feeders and another seeing a megatron fattie doing sexy laughing while being spanked til her dimpled ass is red raw. I can’t even begin to describe the crazy shit we saw and you know what, the pictures don’t even do it justice. Everywhere you looked, there’d be some guy trying to not pass out during a public rope fetish demo, a man with GIGANTIC BALLS (Dr Joe, please send an email to explain) or women dressed as S&M warlocks leading War of Warcraft junkies by chains attached to their dicks. It was seriously awesome and this, pretty much sums it up.


We’ve learned a few things in our travels and perhaps the most glaringly obvious is that overly spiritually, environmental, intellectual and children of the Earth types don’t really like us. We can’t work out why. We listen intently to their fucking endless, boring, stories over and over again, ask loads of questions relating to these afore mentioned stories and then try to add a few things in return about e.g ghosts or recycling practices in France which they don’t even bother listening to. This happens every bloody time we meet these people. Some of the things we’ve heard from spiritual, environmental, intellectual and children of the Earth people are genuinely interesting and we’ve learnt a lot, but the thing that irks me is that they can’t even be bothered to feign interest in us. Surely attention received should be attention returned?

Now, don’t get me wrong, we had a great stay in the very beautiful Lake Tahoe. Luke learned how to skateboard from a former pro turned crazy inventor who had just had stem cell surgery on his messed up ankle (kids, don’t skateboard if you still want to walk when you’re 50). We were lent mountain bikes, a kayak, shown how to use the earth as a gym and were shown huge amounts of generosity, but still, I’m pretty sure we were judged and dismissed as soon as they asked what we did for a living. ‘Advertising? SHAKRS!!!’ was the reaction and the only question which was asked of us in three days and a lot of time spent together. It’s sad, because throughout this trip, we’ve met a lot of people, asked a lot of questions, been genuinely curious about their lives and got the equivalent of a limp handshake in return. Although, they may have been a little put off by Luke touching himself midway through our conversations.

Old age

August 29, 2011

I’ll get onto Chicago soon, but first, it’s official, two weeks into turning thirty and old age is already kicking in.

There have been various signs of senile-ness on this holiday, but none as bad as the past week’s events.

Firstly, there was the incident on my birthday. Luke told me to find my ‘birthday things’ on the table. With the excitement of a dog being promised a walk, I picked up an empty bag filled with rubbish that I had placed on the table the night before. There was no present inside. This was because it was still filled with rubbish. I looked to Luke and he pointed to the unmissable handful of brightly coloured cards laid out on the table saying VANESSA.

Then, the other day, I stopped in the middle of the road and said hysterically to Luke that I had lost my hat. I started spinning around in a circle so I could run somewhere, anywhere, to look for it. Turns out it was on my head.

Yesterday, Luke handed me his glasses case while he stopped to look at the map – I can only do map reading on special occasions i.e when it’s something for me and with supervision. Within two seconds of Luke handing the case to me (and me putting it in my bag), POOF, we both forgot that this exchange had taken place. Thinking he’d left it in a shop, we, the two vacuum heads, ran back, breathlessly asking the shop assistants if they had seen Luke’s glasses case. Luckily, I had the brainiac idea of looking in my bag. Oh, er, ha, here they are, ha, I said to the shop assistant. I looked at Luke thinking I’d have to take the blame for this. I wondered if I could potentially deflect some of the blame onto him. I began to prepare my argument but luckily, he remembered what had happened (I still hadn’t cottoned on) and therefore we were able to split it 50/50.

I guess next is our severe memory loss. As we are both aware of how very little our brains can hold, we are writing everything down a day at a time so when it comes to remembering details of our trip, we can actually sit down and reminisce. Our awareness is so acute, the morning after Luke proposed, we wrote down the whole thing so we wouldn’t forget, and even then, the details were a tad sketchy.

Finally, the excessive weeing should get a mention. When I first met my cousin, I was having an uncontrollable wee day. It was kind of like, hi, I’m your cousin Vanessa, nice to meet you and by the way, I wee like an old lady. I tried to get her to empathsise with the whole Asian bladder thing, but she wasn’t having any of it. So despite my desire to guzzle drinks like a fish, I don’t have camel-like retention to back it up. Therefore, Luke is now controlling my liquid intake. Honestly, it’s like flashing forward forty years but minus the nappy changing. But don’t you worry my husband to be, the time will come when I will soil myself, and it will be a sweet, sweet day.

What would Jeff do?

June 30, 2011

The other week, we introduced you all to Jeff (one of the three Jeff’s in the village) who took us into Narbonne on our first day here. What we failed to mention was, this was the day we fell in love with Jeff.

We’re not really sure what exactly it was that made us fall for him. Perhaps it was his Welsh accent, or his full head of bristly, white, 70 year old man hair. Or maybe it’s because he knows how to fix just about everything in the world. And DAMN, does he know how to wear a pair of khakis. But most likely, it’s because he’s is one of the most lovely, generous and kind people we’ve ever met.

Oh and he commented on how good our cement was.

So now, whenever we’re faced with any challenge going forward (e.g Luke – which one of the 7 identical Topshop t-shirts am I going to wear today? Me – can I steal piece of bread and eat it by the time Mummy S comes back from the pantry?), we’re going to stop and ask ourselves, ‘what would Jeff do?’

Some people like watching sport, others like brushing cats, however I have worked out I love laying cement and hacking trees with axes.

Yesterday, Luke and I almost came to brownie point blows. You see, his job was to dig a hole to get rid of the roots that the bamboo had created. Very manly and full of sweaty, labour-y fun. I got told about another job for him that involved getting rid of the thick roots the wall ivy had created. Now this job involved an axe, saw and crowbar. All items that greatly appeal to me. So I decided to do it myself and from now on, I will only accept axe based jobs. The joy of hacking away at something with an axe with the sweat pouring down your face, stinging your eyes and going into your mouth is only something that can be described in Country song lyrics or a well choreographed modern dance piece. After it was done, Luke came to inspect and as he was having a go holding the axe, Mummy S came out and praised him on the work he’d done! It’s a dog eat dog world.

Today, Luke and I joined forces and made cement together. Honestly, the only thing that could have made it more romantic was laying it by candlelight. Eat our cement bamboo roots.

The singalong

June 23, 2011

Take a moment, sit back and think about Luke and I. Picture Luke’s little happy face. Imagine him wearing a shirt (we’ve run out of clothes), opened in a 90s pop star kind of a way with an acoustic guitar slung around his neck. Imagine me, forcing a pleasant/in awe kind of a face, sitting on one of those poofy sofas that tries to swallow you so you can never quite sit up straight. Now imagine Mummy S – a petite, 71 year old woman, who has a penchant for wearing purple, having her tits out and closing her eyes and shrugging her shoulders when she smiles.

Now, if you will, imagine us in the ‘parlour’. Think Napoleon chic. Think high ceilings, spanish tiles with Persian carpets, a black grand piano, music stand and hundreds of sheets of music. Finally, imagine the three of us making sweet, sweet, ‘music’ together. Luke on the guitar, Mummy S with her mic (yes, a mic) and me on the sofa, being the official finger clicker (loser who can’t play an instrument).

Mummy S sings exactly how Luke and I and probably you, imagined…like an X Factor audition reject who is still in denial. Sometimes she hits a few ok notes and you gotta give it to her for trying but I had to keep on looking down so I wouldn’t laugh for the first 15 minutes. It was so touch and go at one point that I couldn’t even make eye contact with Luke for fear of breaking my pleasant/in awe kind of a face.

Then my worst fear happened. We’d already covered Fever, Luke doing a stellar job and gaining all the brownie points he so longed for with his ‘great rythem’ and had moved onto more ‘popular’ songs. Somehow, we began singing Come Together. And by we, it was me and Mummy S sitting on the sofa together, singing. And to my horror, she kept on shoving the microphone in my face. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see her looking at me, willing me to ‘connect’ with her, make eye contact and come together with her through the magic tunnel of music. And despite the further lead it would have given me in the brown nose table, I just couldn’t.

The evening’s playlist was:

Come Together
Proud Mary

The while thing was so surreal. We were doing a singalong, with an aging ex soapie actress, who was now going by her Indian spiritual name, in the extravagant parlour of a chateau, in the South of France.

Daddy S is getting out his bass tonight.

If it was, I am in last place. Vanessa however, is flying ahead and loving it.

What blew it for me? Well, a number of things. Our hosts are intellectuals (a professor in Geophysics and an actress no less). Struggling to find common ground over the first few nights and dying of conversational death, Vanessa craftily pulled out the topic of reading the other day. Vanessa scored humongous brown-nose points when discussing the books they had all read. I made the enormous error of informing my hosts that I rarely read and received looks of pity. Jealousy embroiled me as they were diverting all their attention to Vanessa throughout the discussion and making notes of the books she told them about. Vanessa 1 – Luke 0.

While swimming in the pool it was commented that Vanessa “swims gracefully” and has a “natural talent that you cannot compete with” and that I, swim like “someone who is drowning”. I admit, I may lack some technique, but I thought my Michael Phelps size feet gave me the great speed to compensate this. I was wrong because Vanessa has beaten me in every race to date. Vanessa 2 – Luke 0.

Vanessa and I watched a movie from their DVD collection last night that I chose. It was ‘Sideways’ – a good 7/10 movie that in no way lives up to the book it was based on, written by Rex Pickett (I should know because I have read it!). Anyway, at the breakfast table this morning I proudly told our hosts that we watched one of their movies and that I also read the book. What a bad move. They hate the movie. It was a terrible gift from a terrible friend. Vanessa didn’t back me up. Vanessa 3 – Luke 0.

Also, apparently I have bad spatial awareness. My host ‘noticed’ this about me. Namely because I put things in the wrong place, i.e the wrong knife in the wrong drawer (see previous posts). In my defence, they have about three drawers for different cutlery and distinguishing a large knife to a small knife when there is only 1cm difference is a bit tricky. Cut me a break. Vanessa then went on to say her map reading skills were better than mine, and that I’m holding her back in getting us to our destinations. Vanessa 4 – Luke 0.

Lastly, Vanessa is half Chinese/half Scottish and Australian. Our hosts are Scottish, love asian food and have lived in Australia. Vanessa 7 – Luke 0. Actually, I now realise that coming from Essex is quite isolating when on the continent. Vanessa 7 – Luke -1

I have one hope that may save me – I can play guitar. And our hosts love Jazz. They have been singing and playing it for the past 10 years (did I mention one of them used to play bass in a successful Punk band in the 70s?). We have yet to hear the ‘Eva Cassidy’ voice of the lady of the Manor, but from the comments around the dinner table, she could be a prodigy. Using my prowess, I informed them that I play. Their ears had pricked up about this and they supplied me with a handful of music scores containing the Jazz playlist that they perform.

We will be jamming at Sunset. It’s all or nothing.

Vanessa waits on bated breath to see if I steal her crown.

Did I mention that I can’t play Jazz?

Farewell Jpow

June 17, 2011

I have no idea where the past two and a half weeks have gone. In this time our way of life has completely changed. Before coming here, we were lucky if we cleaned our house every two months. We had no idea how to hang towels or ride a tandem. Cooking on an Aga was only a dream (although now, it’s actually a nightmare). We can safely say we have acquired a few new life skills, despite their practicality is questionable. Having said that, I can totally imagine being on a plane and the stewardess asking over loudspeaker; “does anybody onboard know how to stack and un-stack an industrial dishwasher? It’s an emergency!” Then, I can put my hand up, a little shyly at first, then followed by a heroic stacking performance where after everyone claps in awe. Ten minutes? That girl has GOT IT GOING ON…sorry, that fantasy was a little long. Where was I? Oh, Luke now goes by Jpow’s pet name for him; Lukey Boy. And I go by ‘she hates you Robbie’ – also penned by Jpow although sadly not as lovingly delivered.

Tomorrow morning we’re off to Narbonne. Our new chateau home is with a retired, yet ‘VERY ACTIVE’ couple. I don’t know about you, but to me, that screams swingers. It might well be my over active imagination (I was slightly worried that Jpow was a serial killer – although this has yet to be confirmed) but just in case, I’ve bagsied the less wrinkly one due to my phobia of excess skin.

So goodbye Jpow. Robbie and Kylie, you can kiss my ass.

The triple cooked chip

June 15, 2011

It is the ultimate chip, the Lionel Messi of the chip world – the triple cooked chip.

I’m not sure how this technique passed us by for so long, maybe it was because we didn’t own a DeLonghi deep fryer, or maybe it was because we were just so utterly naive in the craft of chip making. Anyhow, if you want to make the best ever portion of chips like we did today, follow this recipe and you will not be disappointed:

1. Peel your potatoes and slice into your chip shape of choice
2. Wash them for around 5 minutes under cold water to remove starch
3. Parboil for around 7mins making sure they are still firm
4. Drain and rest on a tray. Once cool, put into the refrigerator for 30mins
5. Deep fry at a low heat for 5mins
4. Drain and rest on a tray. Once cool, put them back into the refrigerator for another 30mins
5. Deep fry at a high heat for around 3-4mins
6. Drain and rest on a tray
7. Season and serve

Et violà.

N.B. Please don’t do the same mistake as me and forget to close the draining tap on the deep fryer when filling it up with cooking oil. I foolishly let almost a litre of it leak all over the work surface and floor in the kitchen which took about 30mins to clean. Very embarrassing.

Jpow: So what do you do for a living?
Me: I’m a graphic designer.
Jpow: So what do you design?
Me: You know, pictures and stuff.
Jpow: Could you design floor plans?
Me: I like to think that I could.
Jpow: Would you like to design MY floor plans in return for my hospitality, free food and free accommodation?
Me: I take it that the emphasis on the word ‘free’ makes this an unpaid job?
Jpow: Did I mention my mansion has hundreds of rooms and a village of Gites?
Me: I think you put me in a corner here Jpow you clever swine.

(Above: Floor plan of our Gite – pronounced ‘jeet’ for the uneducated)