Banter from Blighty 2006 (Part 2) - Up North

Sheils and Sinead - S Express

'Ey up!

In King Dom's United Land the shire of Londinium relaxes in the summertime, stretching its back into the Sunny South East and curling its toes around the West Country. Middle aged Middle Earth spreads itself on top. In the far distance, in a land far far away, lurks mythical goblins and hoblins and majors and minors, there are whispers in the wind as people scurry inside and doors slam, two words gust through the cracks..... Uuuuppp Noooorrrrtthhh.

Lian and Ronan give me a pep talk before the big game

Follow the Leeder
Leeds gets a bad rep and this is generally from soft southerners who've never been (fightin talk). Not one to form an independent thought I decided to embrace the prejudice, and as my coach pulled into the city I braced myself for the opening scene in Blade Runner; red raw industrial hell, chimneys belching black soot... alas, not even a token grim hardfaced northern lass. The city is populated with cosmopolitan big soft fluffy people, who smile a lot. Yes, they are all tellytubbies :o) Not a kitchensink or a drama in sight!

Boss Buzzes:
- Staying at Headingly cricket ground, yes literally in the stadium, the corporate boxes double as hotel rooms.
- Bronte country, did you know the Brontes’ Dad was actually an Irishman called Brunty!
- Yorkshire moors, beautifully spooky
- Haworth, this is possibly the most idyllic spot in the world, think Hovis ad where the little boy runs about the cobblestoned village delivering the bread.
- Lian and Ronan bringing us to dinner in a restaurant that was formerly a police station, we dined in a cell, we ate liver with some fava beans and nice chianti!

In the Hert of the countryside
Hertforshire is a stones throw from London and boasts boootiful proper rural 'tea with the vicar' villages.We stayed with Kate and Ronan (Dom's old flatmates from his Dublin days), who showered us with hospitality and live in a postcard!

As much as I aspire to be a country girl, my urban upbringing has me primally screaming as I run from owl hoots, b1tch slap swishing bats, have a dance off with a fox and generally encounter things I thought only existed in Harry Potter books.

Oooo -aacch Nessy
We descended on Inverness to go to the wedding of another old flatmate of Doms (tis the season). I felt immediately at home in Scotland, it's a little slice of celtic pie.

Highland Flings:
- Going mental on the dancefloor to the Irish Rover.
- Ripping through the still waters of Loch Ness in search of the monster (no sign - gutted!).
- Bamboozled by the fact we were so far north it never really got dark.
- Not a 100% sure about the hop-on-hop-off tour bus though (Tescos supermarket was one of the 'sights')

Devon knows how they make it so creamy
Exeter boasts the title of oldest town in the UK. I'll be honest and admit I spent most of my time there in the throes of a 48 hour house party courtesy of Sinead B (best cocktail shaker/maker west of downtown Moscow).

Lovin the cathedral and the ye olde worlde feel of the place.

Not lovin my decision to be the only Equador football fan in a pub heaving with chants of Rule Britannia and my personal fav 'I'm English till I die'... hmm, leave it with me.

Back down South
Still having a torrid love affair with London...

Dom and I went for dinner in the blind restaurant in Clerkenwell. Yes, it's PITCH black, no, you can't see ANYTHING. The waiters are blind. Your other senses are set alight. Time truly is a mere concept, reckoned 40 mins, turned out to be 1 hour 40. The restaurant is monitored by some sort of infra-red light or dude with night goggles or along those lines, so no shenanigans. An experience of a lifetime.

Hakkasan is possibly the poshest Chinese on the face of the planet, come to celeb spot, stay for the legendary cocktails.

Katrina and I decided to act like savvy locals so we hopped a water taxi to Greenwich, got off at the wrong stop but stumbled across London's biggest secret.... 10,000 leagues under the sea (well beneath the Thames) there's a foot tunnel, you burrow along and pop out practically on board the Cutty sark!

Even those of a lazy disposition find it nigh on impossible to be bored in England's great captial city. This month only I've...
Turned scarlet saluting Karl Marx at his cemetery in Highgate.
Caught a Razorlight gig in Camden
Fluked an expenses paid trip to the Mandarin Oriental spa, deeevine.
Boogied the night away in the Westend.
Wimbledon, well that's a whole different email, pimms o'clock!

Latest celeb spot: Patrick Swazye (granted he was on stage at the time so not so much a 'spot' more of a 'stalk'). Oh and Brad Pitts ex, Juliette Lewis, wolfing down a curry.

Back to the heat wave.

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