28 June 2009

what i did on my summer vacation, pt 1: we can sleep when we're dead

Having just returned from two weeks in the UK, where the daily highs might have struggled up to about 73 degrees F, and more often dipped low enough to warrent a jacket and my new scarf that has people doin' it on it, returning to Texas and 106 degree days has not been pleasant. I already miss the people and public transpo and easy availability of Magners and sandwiches from shops; I don't need to mourn the weather as well. Get it together, Texas; this is ridiculous.

Guys!!! I was just in the UK with my heterosexual life partner, Courtney! For two weeks! It was the best vacay evs! Or at least the best vacay this year, which still counts for a lot in my book. Let me tell you ALL ABOUT IT (edited for content) using lots of abbreviated words in capital letters to properly convey my excitement! LET'S GET STARTED, SHALL WE?

Right, so, before I talk about actually going overseas, I need to pretend that I got to Courtney's house earlier than I did (which was approx. 10 minutes before we left for the airport) so that I can talk about Tiny House, which is the house she just bought. Last time I saw Tiny House, I forgot my camera, so here you go - pictures of Tiny House!

I know; it's so fucking awesome it makes me want to puke. COURTNEY. What are you doing working at a job helping other people with their life choices and shit? You should be DECORATING MY HOUSE.

Okay, anyway, MOVING ON.

As I said, I got to Courtney's at about ten minutes before we were to leave for the airport, which was just enough time to get mocked for my heavy suitcase and my umbrella snd see Courtney's new hot neighbor. Why are all my neighbors old dudes with poodles? Anyway, then it was off to the airport!

The flight to London was a bit disorienting. First, I unwillingly participated in a Campaign of Terror that Courtney orchestrated against some poor, innocent family who just wanted to sit together (this is a joke - I willingly participated in it, of course) and then I had to sit through Last Chance Harvey. Um, has anyone ever actually WATCHED that movie from start to finish? It's not sweet and romantic and uplifting! Dustin Hoffman stalks poor gigantic Emma Thompson all around London for like three days! Moping the ENTIRE FUCKING TIME. I told Courtney that it was a good thing airlines only used plastic utensils now, because if I had a knife right then, I'd have started self-harming.

Then, while innocently trying to get some sleep (there's nothing I hate more than taking sleeping pills and then NOT getting to sleep, so that you hover in this semi-conscious fugue state the entire time, in which you are like 99% sure that you're carrying on a rational, intelligent conversation with a three-legged purple-spotted horned beast who has the same face as your fifth grade gym teacher, but you can't remember what the conversation is about), I kept being awoken by the second film of the evening, Speed Racer. Dude. One does not need to see quite so many flashing lights (not to mention John Goodman and a monkey) behind one's eyeballs while trying in vain to sleep. What the hell, American Airlines? Couldn't you have at least shown a Soderbergh film? He hates color.

But! We arrived in London AND my luggage didn't get lost AND I didn't have to try to sleep for 4 hours on a bench in baggage claim waiting for my friend to get there because I couldn't catch my original flight and had to sprint across JFK with no posessions to try to hop another one, like the LAST TIME I went to England, so things were looking up!! As we were walking through the duty free shop at Heathrow (they are some clever bitches, those guys) on our way our of our terminal, Courtney and I remarked how much we'd both wanted, just once, to be greeted with a sign upon our arrival. And then we caught sight of a just-returned-from-Turkey Sarah, and her hand:

Aw, Sarah, thanks!!!

Sarah was the hostess with the mostest this trip; she and her parents graciously put us up in their wonderful house and let us generally annoy the crap out of them, for which I can only say thank you (later followed with actually saying thank you with a gift, or my mother would disown me). Plus, dig the views from my window!

There are worse sites to greet in a morning, I'm just sayin'.

Immediately upon arrival to Sarah's, I insisted we go down to the shop at the end of her lane. This shop is kinda like my second home - it's where I get my cans of Magners and my fizzy colas and an explaination as to why girls can't eat Yorkies and, more importantly, where I can consume myself. In sandwich form.

Oh, yeah, I have a sandwich named after me, folks:

Sausage, cheese and mushroom on a buttered baguette. It is named after me because I invented it (as much as it can be called inventing to say, "could I have . . . cheese on this?" which means I have also invented practically every other food item I have consumed in my 29 years of life, as I am a girl who will put cheese on everything. Except apple pie. What IS that?). The lady at the shop who makes the sandwiches questioned why ANYONE would put cheese on a perfectly normal sausage and mushroom breakfast sandwich, and then eat it for lunch, but I am here to ask: why would anyone NOT do that? Anyway, after a bit of mild mocking, she agreed the sandwich should be named after me. SO. If you are ever in a town called St Albans, call me, and I will tell you where to order an Erin. (no jokes about prostitution, plz.)

After consuming myself in sandwich form, Courtney and I washed the travel grime off of us and headed into town for a wander.

The wander turned, as these things are apt to do with Sarah and Courtney around, into shopping (I got a black sequined vest from H&M. I know, you want to touch me.), which then turned, as things are apt to do when I'm around, into drinking. Thank you, good ol' Slug and Lettuce, and your 3 pound cocktails on Fridays.

(I am convinced that a Pimm's Cup is actually good for you. Look at all that fresh fruit and veg!)

Sarah's bestie Sha and her boyfriend Russ met up with us, and it was off to yummy dinner at Bar Meze! Only I have promised Posh Sarah that I will write up about all the yummy food I ate for poshdeluxe.com, so YOU GUYS WILL JUST HAVE TO WAIT. But to tide you over, here are photos:

(apart from having the exact same hair, sha and russ also drink in unison. it is disconcertingly adorable.)

you know all those "scientific" studies that say people are attracted to symmetrical features? i am attracted to people who look like they're mated with a bottle of wine.

OKAY OKAY, I snuck one food picture in. I just like how it looks like something Dexter would enjoy eating.

It was the perfect way to spend our first evening in England - good food, good friends, lots of laughs (and, randomly, birthdays) and, eventually, the sweet siren song of a soft bed, with the windows open and the sound of quiet peace drifting in.

Of course, the next day, things would not end so peacefully.

The day started out like any other good Saturday - waking up, taking a shower, getting dressed, stealing a scone from Sarah's kitchen (except her mom had baked those to have someone over for tea, so I felt really bad about it even as I was OM NOM NOMMING its cheese and chive deliciousness), and then heading off for MOAR SHOPPING.

(I sometimes wonder what would happen if I was lucky enough to live near Cat and Sarah and Courtney, my Friends Who Shop. I'd be happier but so much more poverty-stricken than I already am. On the other hand, I'd have an outfit for every day of the decade.)

Sarah took us to a MALL. An honest-to-God, actual mall! Well, sort of. I mean, it was as mall-like as England could shoot for, which meant that it was completely randomly laid out, and there was a Marks and Spencer in the middle of it, and it didn't seem to make much in the way of sense, but there was a parking garage! And cheesy music piped in! And a Ben and Jerry's vending machine! All it was missing was a Contempo Casual and more camel toe.

Shopping done, wallets depleted of funds, we returned home to offload our purchases and change for a peaceful, calm night out in Shoreditch. Which turned, as these things tend to do, into mild drunken debauchery and me making a boy cry. SCORE.

First of all, we had to leg it to the train, which left us charmingly sweaty and gross, with only my litre of Magners to rehydrate us on the journey. Then we sort of got . . . lost. Well, no, that's not a fair or accurate statement. I knew right where we were! We were in Shoreditch, in Mile End. I just wasn't sure where we were going . . . exactly. Along the way to Rough Trade East (our eventual destination), we were: leered at by a carful of absolutely CHARMING chavs, videotaped by a seemingly homeless man, beseeched to purchase the fugliest purse I have ever laid eyes on (for just 5 pounds!), and stopped routinely and asked for directions to other places. Which, I might add, we were quite good at giving because I KNOW WHERE I AM JUST NOT WHERE I'M GOING. Which could probably be said of every aspect of my life.

But finally, we made it to our destination, and the drinking began in earnest. can I just say? It wasn't mine and Sarah's faults. We'd barely eaten lunch (half a sandwich from M&S) and this was all we'd eaten for dinner:

And the rest of it ended up lost somewhere in all of this:

which was merely the start of the evening and does not take into account the three bottles of wine, nor the gin. Nor the whiskey.

Whilst at Rough Trade, I met some of Courtney's english friends! They were all in a big group and I only remember, like, 4 of their names, but HELLO FRIENDS!!!!!! Hi!

After we'd sat around Rough Trade some, it was on to 93 ft East, just a block away, to meet up with one of my favorite London people, Kaisa!! HI KAISA!!

Hi! Hi Kaisa! Yes, I know she doesn't look nearly as thrilled as I do, but trust me, for Kaisa, she's practically doing backflips. She's cool as cucumber, that one. (Also, I *wish* I would stop making that face in pictures. Or, you know, in life.)

The band we had been planning on seeing that evening were the Gin Riots, who were featured a few posts down, one of our SxSW finds. But, alas, they cancelled because the lead singer had laryngitis (so they claim!), and instead we just sat and caught up and drank more. Also, during this time, one of the other bands from the evening tried to befriend us. With their tongues. As you do. They were 12, so I suppose that was my chance to be a cougar!! Alas.

Kaisa suggested we blow that popsicle stand for some dancing, an idea to which I was only too happy to agree. So she took us to good ol' Feeling Gloomy, a club night in North London.

Let me explain something about Feeling Gloomy. If you have ever thought to yourself, "Self, what I could really go for, to get the party started, is The Smiths" then, friend, Feeling Gloomy is the club night for you! And, as it happens, I think that to myself all the time, so I think I could be quite happy there on a regular basis. (apart from it all, though, I don't think I've ever been anywhere that such a loud cheer went up during the first opening strains of "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now.")

Some things to note about Feeling Gloomy:

1) one of the DJs was an unwarrented prick to me, just cause I knew someone who knew someone who he used to date at one point, sometime in the past. I wouldn't have cared, EXCEPT that he had a really nice coat on, and I wanted to ask him where he'd bought it.
2) Some people were dressed like this:

3) I made lovely, whiskey-fueled bonds with strangers. Like this boy! And the blonde girl!

4) I met the elusive Becs, Kaisa's American friend who ALWAYS ends up at the same shows as me at sxsw, but we've NEVER BEFORE MET.
5) I made a boy cry by mocking his Doors tribute band. But come on, wouldn't you?

Saturday night ended in a drunken blur, with dancing and girl-crushing and a few ill-advised make-out sessions with strangers. So, basically, it ended like most Saturday nights. ONLY IN ENGLAND.

However, what really did me in was the hangover the next morning. Um, I guess cider+beer+wine+gin+whiskey is not the world's best combo? I have never been so hungover IN MY LIFE. And you guys, not to brag or anything, but I am a pretty seasoned drinker. I mean, I am southern, and my family is Irish, and I drink to forget my problems, so it's not like I haven't been around the block a time or two with Ol' Mister Hangover. But holy jeez, never like this.

It would have been okay - not great, but tolerable - if I were at home, where the proper hangover cure (2 mimosas + 3 tylenol + a hot shower + breakfast tacos + a nap) is always at hand, but I was in a foreign land! And I had plans! So I got up, only an hour or two later than I'd hoped, attempted not to wake the household with my moaning or stumbling while I attempted to navigate the bathtub (too weak to stand, and I thought dizziness + shower might cause a head injury which I would at first laugh off and then later die from (RIP Billy Mays)). Plus, I was going to spend the day with my friend Pete, and I wasn't missing that for a stupid hangover, even if it was a hangover which threatened to CONSUME MY SOUL.

Dude, though, an hour and a half on trains, hungover? NOT RECOMMENDED.

Pete, bless him, took pity on me and didn't make me do anything strenuous, or which required me to form much in the way of sentences or complex thoughts. He took me to Box Hill, which overlooks some of the towns in Surrey. YOU GUYS IT IS SO PRETTY. Check it:

Can you believe that people LIVE here and can see this basically whenever they want? I can't believe I KNOW someone who lives here and can see this whenever he wants! If I lived near Box Hill, you could not get me to do anything productive, ever. I would just sit on the hill all day, dreaming and pondering and stretching out in the sun for a nap, like a cat. I would not do things like work, certainly, and I would tell all my friends that if they wanted to hang out with me, they'd have to come up to my hill. And you know what? I think they'd be cool with that.

Then we went on a walk through bits of the woods, and came across discoveries, like this awesome tree and this even more awesome tombstone:

If I were to be buried (which I sincerely hope I will not be), I am not sure I'd like to be buried head down. How can you protect yourself against SUPRIZE BUTTSECKS that way? Backs to the core, gentlemen!

After I had run out of exclamatory words about the scenery (which I mostly said in my head, cause, again: hungover), we went to dinner, which will of course be discussed in more detail at poshdeluxe. However, I will say that at this dinner, I was questioned by the waiter as to whether I was a food critic, because I was taking photos of my food:

Waiter: "I was just wondering, are you a food critic?"
Me: "No, I am just taking photos of all the food I eat."
Waiter: "Why?"
Me: "So I can write about it."
Waiter: "As a . . . food critic?"

Eventually, Pete explained to the confused waiter that I was American, at which point, our waiter nodded knowingly, as if that explained EVERYTHING. Hmph.

By this point, I was starting to feel mildly better, although still not at all recovered, so I was a little grateful that it was a Sunday night and we couldn't get up to too much trouble with alcohol. Still, I threatened to pass out on Pete's couch in the middle of conversation at least three times, something which I bet he wishes I'd gone through with when I was making him watch Bonnie Tyler's Eighties Power Hour on MTV later in the evening. (You cannot argue with Bonnie Tyler, though! Primarily because she will CUT YOU SOON AS LOOK AT YOU.)

The next day was Monday, and I returned back to Sarah's, where we took an ambling stroll around the fields and parks next to her home. We were menaced by sheep!

Oh, I know they LOOK cute and fluffy, but a Mama Sheep stared us down for like ten minutes, before Sarah and I calmly but quickly made our way out of the field. Dude, sheep are scary mofos.

You know who's not scary, though? Bernard, the best doggy of casual acquaintance that I've ever met!

Look how pretty and well-behaved he is! He sat perfectly still (and regally!) for a picture, before returning to his previous task of fetching sticks.

The parks and flowers around Sarah's house were so gorgeous and peaceful, and I was regretting leaving them at all. Maybe I could split my time between Box Hill and St Albans' lakes.

After our stroll, we met up with Sarah's big sister Becky (who is the same age as me, which doesn't make her that much older than Sarah) and her daughter Ellis-Rose and, later, Courtney for nibbly bits from Sainsburys, Big Brother UK and talking about boys! It was one of my favorite parts of the trip, actually, just sitting there gossiping about life, eating garlic bread and chips and other crap food, and just relaxing in the company of funny, awesome ladies. The perfect end to the first part of our trip!

Section 2 of the trip, in which we visit a Scottish town in which no Scottish person lives, plus the unending ire for Sir Walter Scott, next time. See you then!


treehavn said...

For some reason the photo of the sheep made me powerfully homesick. Besides which, I am muchly enjoying this recap.

xymarla said...

Courtney! I LOVE YOUR HOUSE. Is it tiny? Thus the nomenclature? Or is it like when you see a monstrously huge man nicknamed Tiny?

Everything is so beautiful! I want to go to there. I WANT PICTURES OF YOUR SHOPPING PURCHASES, HOWEVER. Or you could just bring them when I see you tonight. Plus my Sarah necklace!

I'm dying for the food blog, as engrossing and lovely as this post has been, but OMG FOOD PICS.

Erin said...

emily, do they not have sheep up in canada? or do they blend in with the snow?

Tiny House is tiny. And ADORES.

Shopping purchases will be seen in all good time, lady!

poshdeluxe said...

erin, you are obvs a Serious Journalist (and come ON, totes a food critic. just not, like, a paid one). and i appreciate the deep sacrifice you have made by waiting to post the majority of yr food pics on PD. I CANNOT WAIT TO SEE THEM.

also, that scenery from the train is goooorgeous. it's like, the backdrop for every british novel i've ever read. like, i swear mr. darcy lives there.

i really wanna go to feeling gloomy, too!! why can't we have a bar like that on sixth street instead of Skank Central #56?

Erin said...

Because then you'd have to fight through the skanks to go and get drunk and listen to The Smiths? And then that'd just be like high school all over again?

I am glad you appreciate my sacrifice! Your post is ready to go. :)

Sarah said...


Also, you make my area look so pretty! Oh, wait, actually, I just looked out the window and it looks pretty fucking amazing. There is a sunset and a weird cloud thing. I'm going to take photos of it.

Erin said...

ha! i love you, sarah. Your area is GORGEOUS. You're so lucky to live where you do. although I will trade you a townhouse on a street full of old people in a crappy town, if you'd like?

xymarla said...

I would merely like to point out that it is always Day Two on this blog, be it of vacation or of SXSW.

(to the tune of Black Kids' "I Wanna Be Your Limousine"): I wanna be your dictobird! Fill these pages up with words! Give your achy wrist a rest! I can type with all the best!