Category Archives: Holidays

Memories of my days in the sun

So this is it, the last blog from LA for a considerable period of time at least, if ever again. I know, I could come back again, and may even need to come back again sooner than that, but being practical, I have many other places to see, some for the first time, some for repeat visits, so its going to be a while, if ever again. And yes, at my age, with the distance involved, and I’m sure the deterioration of my physical health, which is far from perfect even now, I’m sure I wont be able to do as much then, as I can now, anyway. I’m already suspecting that delights like walking up the long hill at Forest Lawn might be beyond me by then at least, but we will see.

To be fair, if you’d told me back in October ’15, that my next holiday would be back here, I would have laughed at you, but its happened. I guess I just wanted to show this city that I’d battled through everything that life had thrown at me, and got here again. But now thats done…?

In some ways today has been a light day, I havent actually left Hollywood. However, I spent a lot of the day on my feet, walking, so maybe not as light as all that? It was actually interesting going on a guided walking tour of Hollywood, where I knew the guide! I know, end of holiday, but in truth, it didnt matter, as I got to visit lots of old buildings that I’d never have got into myself. Oh fine, the one that amused me the most, has to be Musso and Frank’s! Yes, I finally got to go in there, if only for coffee, but at least I now know what it actually looks like from the inside. Of course, for works of fiction, thats a mere technicality, but at least I’ve made it there now. Yes, its every bit as impressive as I’d been led to believe. So if I ever want to use it in a story again lol…?

The other thing I’d already decided was where my last big meal in town would be, and though its not bargain basement, its cheaper than that legendary place. So I settled for the 50’s feel of Mels Diner, for one last time. After that, a couple of final, final goodbyes, at the star, and prints of Jean Harlow, before heading back to base. I do wish there was a star to the uncredited chorus girls/bit part actresses of the world, but no, there isnt, so I just said goodbye to Clara Johnson generally, as I turned off the Boulevard for the last time, on foot at least.

What can I say? You can take a woman out of Yorkshire, but you cant take Yorkshire out of a woman? Yes, I stopped off at a gorgeous, quirky, vintage clothing store on the way back, and saw the most gorgeous, silver flapper dress, really looked the part. Had my size too, but I didnt get it. Why? Because I cant justify spending $65 (plus tax, I’m sure) on a dress I have no idea when, or where I would ever wear it. So yes, I know I’ll regret it, but it stayed in the shop. I could get it in the morning (shop opens at 11, I have to be ready to go at 12.30, and its about 5 minutes walk), but I know I wont.

The only walk I’m planning at present to do in the morning, is a short trip around the block, so that I can walk a little way up Beachwood Drive, looking at the Hollywood sign, one more time. No, I’m not going as far as Verbena though, thats far too far for the short period of time I have left ‘in the sun’ of LA.

Yes, thats it for here. Pretty sure you’ll have to wait until Monday for the next blog, I’ll have too much catching up to do on Sunday for that.

The video. I’m surprised I havent used this Elaine Paige classic before, but seemingly I havent (well, on 1 blog at least), so lets use it now

I’ve known from the start

Oh fine, I’m lying, I only wish I had known I was a woman all along, but anyway…Yes, the clues were there from an early age, but how was I to know?

But yes, one thing I’ve known for 18 months at least, is that at some point, I’d complete the full circle, and fly somewhere on a passport that said I was a woman, and tomorrow is that day. I know, no one at the airport is even going to realize how special that moment is to me, because to them, I’ll just be another woman checking in, going through passport control, and other stuff.

So after that, I’ll have had the full set, a male passport while ‘living’ as a man, a male passport when I’d transitioned in every way except the passport, and now, finally, the full female self. And a different name for each too!

I know, its silly, because everything in life is equally important, but for a traveller like me, this passport, and the chance to use it, is just so special, all the same. But yes, that moment when I will do the last thing I did as a man, but never as a woman according to the legal niceties, has only a few hours to go now, cant wait.

So, if you’re flying through Terminal 1 at Manchester Airport tomorrow, and see a very happy old lady, there’s a fair chance it will be me!

I will be amazed if anyone has heard tonights video before, unless like me, you’re a big Rocky Sharpe fan. But yes, the clue is in the blog title

The Sun Always Shines, With TV

So yes, its official now, I’m on an extended break, that just happens to include 10 days in an apartment in Hollywood. So yes, planning, and plotting is very much under way. I now at least have 1 definite booking, a walking tour of Hollywood, on my last full day in town. Yes, I know, not the best timing, but its only happening once a month, and yes, its got to be done, as I know the lady acting as the guide, not only through Twitter, which is where I first met her, but also in real life, given we toured the Hollywood Museum together, on my first trip across, just over 2 years ago. Since then she’s got married, become a mother, and yes, I’m proud of her for that.

The Brooks movies mentioned earlier in the week are almost settled, but technically not definite, due to my regular issue with US websites, of that unless you, and more importantly, your credit card have a zip code, they’re impossible to use on their site. So now I cant do anything until after I’ve got there, so just having to hope its not a sell out, as I will be annoyed if it is. Fingers crossed, it is the Egyptian Theater, it is quite large, but… Of course I have no idea if UK websites are equally bad for users outside of the UK, so forgive my grumbles if they are.

I’ve also been trying to work out when Clayton Kershaw will be pitching for the Dodgers while there, based on the 5 pitcher rota teams use. Having pitched last night (a win), and counting forward, it looks like I’m going on the 23rd. But yes, I’ll wait nearer the time, and will probably be an ‘on the day’ purchase at the stadium, though at what I can afford to pay, I’ll be so far from Kershaw that I would see him better on TV lol! Oh, and if anyone could arrange a meet with Vin Scully, I would be thrilled, schoolgirl like!

Talking of which… On my 2 previous trips to LA, I’ve tried both times to get tickets to see Jimmy Kimmel recording his show, with no success. It might be that the people controlling the tickets see a UK address, and dont let me have them accordingly, or I might just have been unlucky? Well, this time, I’ve changed my profile to fit the zip code of my apartment, and applied several times over for both him, and James Corden, so fingers crossed I get to see one of them at least.

Of course, in an ideal world, I’d be the one being interviewed about transgender diversity issues, and trying to get an acting break, but fine, I’ll settle for being part of the audience, I guess? Yes, you never know, but I suspect pigs flying are more likely!

Oh, and finally, I’ve got a lot of the packing done. Probably more dresses than I will possibly need unless something amazing happens, but better safe than sorry. Still got room in the case for more, but mustnt go too mad, as I really shouldnt need more, for 10 days, and I’m sure I will bring more stuff back with me anyway. Green Card, or working visa would be handy lol, but cant see it!

Right, video. This time of year, its pretty fair to say the sun shines most days in LA. Thankfully, the winter was very wet, solved a lot of drought issues, if not all of them. Oh, and I might shine in a TV audience at least. Oh, and how does this guy still look so good?

In A Bog Country Dream

In these days when you can book everything you want online, even simply using a mobile phone, it might be hard for some of my readers to believe that when we had to do these things back in the 70’s, soon after I started work, things were a lot more complex.

One thing I enjoyed, before commuting became a serious part of my life, was travelling by trains. I know, but it was a lot easier back then, when there was just one company running everything, but fine, those days are gone, and I dont want to get political again! The beauty of one company running all the railways in the country, was that British Rail (as it was then) created something called a Rail Rover. Basically there was one for each region, and I had experienced it, as my mother had taken me travelling on the Southern Rail version, during School Holidays, but there was something that interested me far more, when I started work. Yes, the all line version! Basically it gave me the chance, with a lot of planning, to travel some of the more rural lines I would never get to travel otherwise, which was fun. The snag with those lines then, and indeed still now, is that there werent many trains a day on those routes to choose from.

The advantage now, is that if you want to plot those journeys nowadays, you just type in a few details on the National Rail website journey planner, and you plan accordingly. Back then, I had a very large (and I do mean large) paper version of the national timetable to work things out from, and that was it. Oh, and none of those hotel booking websites we have now, either! Me, I used an AA handbook, as my hotel guide. So putting together train routes, tying that into my overnight hotel, and…it was interesting! Oh, and in theory, I could have picked up the phone at home, and rang the hotels and booked, but it was the family phone, so I wrote, and sent letters instead! Now, you just go on a website, make a booking, and thats it, but back then, you’d send off the letters, hope you got a positive reply, and move on from there. In truth, probably because I was never looking for hotels in big towns, I tended to get in fine, but yes, doing workarounds, if you did get a rejection, and have to start again, ouch!

One of those lines I wanted to travel dearly, was just about as far from home as I could get, and stay on the mainland. Back then, it was just the line from Inverness to Thurso, and Wick, nowadays called the Far North line, which is a pretty fair description. As you can guess, both then, and now, not many trains to choose from, per day! One of my problems was, that if I travelled to either of the termini (back then, the train split at Georgemas Junction, in the middle of nowhere, now one train serves both) it would be very late at night before I got there. And fine, I was about 18, and that didnt appeal. So I looked for somewhere I could split the journey, and I found somewhere interesting.

Middle of nowhere, pretty much just the station, a hotel, and a couple of houses, and that was it. A tiny place called Forsinard. So yes, it appealed, and at least I didnt have far to go between train, and hotel. Yes, I stayed there. Yes, its about as remote a place as I’ve ever stayed in my life! After 40 years, I have no idea how busy the hotel was that night, all I remember is arriving mid evening, and leaving again the next morning, and that was it. An evening meal, a bed, and breakfast, and that was about the total of my stay!

Anyway, last week, out of curiosity, I thought I’d take a look and see what the current prices were to stay there, to find that it closed about 4 years ago, presumably lack of business? No, in truth, not totally surprised. There were no Premier Inns, Travelodges and the like back then, even not allowing for the limited market for somewhere like there in the first place!

Thing is, nowadays, I tend to stay in chain hotels, but yes, I guess I will always have a soft spot for those quirky little hotels, all the same.

OK, video time. The reason for the blog title is that Forsinard lays in what is now called Flow Country, a large area of peat bog. So, yes, I couldnt resist the pun!

Gimme, gimme, gimme a greedy landlord!

So yes, firstly to confirm, I do have somewhere to stay in Hollywood, its just not where I expected it to be! Landlord greed, which backfired on him badly. What would you rather have, £747 for a booking 4 months in advance, or nothing because seeing someone wanted to book your place, you hike up your rates 15%!

For those who dont know, when you try to book somewhere on Airbnb, you end up having to request the apartment, and it gives the landlord 24 hours to accept, or reject, or whatever. So yes, given I’d been told which place to book, and that he’d love to have me stay, I thought this would be a formality, but wrong. He just ignored it for the 24 hours, much to my surprise. Until…

Before I went looking elsewhere, under the circumstances, I sent a line to check why he hadnt taken the booking. Back came a reply saying that seeing he was starting to get interest, he wanted to raise the prices slightly. Fine, it was near the top of the range where the apartment option was only slightly cheaper than the budget hotel, but fair enough. A couple of days later, I checked again, to find out the price had gone up by 15%! Despite a request to let me know when he’d done it, I’d heard nothing! So funnily enough, I’ve gone elsewhere! I know, in town, he’ll probably get others who will pay the new rate, but seriously…!

In a matter of irony, I went and looked again. Now, whether this was down before because of a request, or whether he’d taken it down while he did something with his ad, or whether I had just been blonde, but who knows? OK, it doesnt look quite as nice as the other one, but it looks fine, its in an area I know (Just slightly further down towards town in Hollywood Hills area, and quite a bit cheaper! So yes, I applied, got accepted, and am now sorted! The other guy, well fine, serve him right if no one books it, but I doubt that will happen!

Now all I need to sort out, nearer the time, is my ESTA clearance, my travel insurance, and my shuttle. And then, California, here I come!

The video, some live Abba, for which the clue is in the blog title!

Going to make me a star?

Right, firstly, word of warning, its back to normal for the foreseeable future with blogs from now on, so back to twice a week, and all that. At least it gives me a bit more opportunity to use up material at a sane rate, I guess?

Well, I think I’ve resolved my first issue of 2017, my present to myself. Yes, the Hollywood trip is booked, I think. Flight is definitely booked, accommodation, I’ve made my choice, and requested it, but still waiting for confirmation on that. Yes, I’m waiting because I’ve gone for the apartment option, so waiting for that approval email at present. Given I sent a question to the guy, and he answered it, I’m assuming I’m not going to have any issues getting it, but until I get that confirmation, well…?

About one long block from Hollywood Boulevard (near Highland), and it looks fine, and I’m told there is somewhere nearby for provisions, so gone for it. So yes, for 10 days at least, a Hollywood resident again!

Make me a star? No, somehow I have my doubts, but who knows? I will go there with an open mind, and should the chance occur, then yes, I’ll take it. I’ll certainly plan to visit that agency this time around, arrange that appointment a lot further in advance than last time. But no, I wont rush to apply for the working visa just yet lol! Mind, if someone wants to tell me that I should? 😉

Probably only coincidence, but I was watching a documentary of the life of an actress, who won a competition, and became a famous actress because of it, Clara Bow. No, I’m not winning any competition, but if I could start with a small part, then…? Fine, I’m not 16, and its not that Hollywood Era, so… pretty sure I’ll be coming back!

The video, a clue in the title I guess?

And so, the end is near

Though strictly for some of my readers, its already 2017 by the time I type this! But for me, 2016 has still got a few hours to go, so…

As someone elsewhere wrote, who knows what 2017 holds in store for us? Especially for those of us that arent to the right in politics, there are a couple of issues, either side of the pond to concern ourselves about. Over here, the big hot potato is Brexit, and though I’m far from a fan of the EU, I still think we’re better off in it, than out of it, but…The other big issue is the soon to be President of the US, who in all honesty, scares me. I hope he doesnt just think the nuclear red button is a toy to use, when he gets annoyed on Twitter, but anyway, nothing I can do!

For me, assuming good health, and good fortune, I have a few things planned out for the year, something else I suspect might be inevitable, and beyond that, who knows? At least I can go into 2017 feeling a lot better about life than I did at this time last year! But what little surprises will come along, good or bad, who knows?

The biggest thing I’m looking forward to, is my first flight formally as a woman! Now that is going to be special, and more fun because it will be back to LA. I could actually book it now, if I could decide on my planned options, as to which one to take. If anyone wants to give me £400, so I can take the best of both worlds, trip wise, would be handy. I know, I know…

The other trip officially planned at present is to New England, in September, to meet up with Kate again, and hopefully meet a couple of people for the first time. That trip, I’m also sort of hoping to get back to a brilliant hypnotist again, and let him grill Clara Johnson, my past life self, for far more details about her! Irony, the last time I flew to both these places, I had to change flights en route, next year, I will be able to do both as one direct flight!

Then we come to the thing that I’m not looking forward to, but am beginning to accept its going to have to happen. Both my knees seem to be deteriorating fast, and I feel the right knee especially, and in all truth, the left one as well, are going to have to be replaced with artificial joints at some point in the not too distant future. I’m hoping to put them off until after the 2 holidays, but will have to wait and see if I can keep going that long. Fingers are crossed! Yes, it is the resulting pain, and all the related stuff thats putting me off, but I guess its not going to get better, only worse, so…? But yes, if anyone knows a means of pain free surgery to get them done, let me know!

Beyond all that, who knows? I might get a modelling session in the US (I plan to get to the agency in LA in May), or even a theater role, or movie role, but I wont be holding my breath for any of those to actually happen. In truth, its about the only way I plan not to be in the same job at the end of the year, all things assuming they still want me by then!

I might actually get to some cricket in Ireland too, but not sure I can balance the finances, and holiday allowance for that, but we will see. I might even write a new book, but finding the time, and the inspiration for that, might be complex.

Yes, in addition to all this, I know something totally unexpected is likely to come along, but what that will be, who knows? Maybe that flying saucer will arrive, maybe that full working robot suit will, though I would say the chances of either are miniscule, to put it mildly, lol! In truth, just have to wait and see. The one thing I’m sure of, if I survive that long, I’ll reach my 59th birthday, wow! Yes, I feel that old!

Right, video time. Something not relating to the blog tonight, just for once. You know how you have those songs you shouldnt have a soft spot for, but do? Yes, I have one that seems apt at present.

A look at the year. I’m alive, but still 3 days…?

In truth, I have no idea if strictly 2016 has been a worse year for celebrity deaths or not, or whether its just that more people that I’ve grown up with are beginning to die, or what? It feels that way, but I suspect if I looked back at certain years in the past, they’d be just as bad, but anyway…Yes, I might be feeling old lol!

I know there are still 3 days to go, so it might happen yet, but maybe someone needs to get me a ‘I survived 2016’ top/t-shirt, or something? Well, assuming I do, of course! No, I’m not going to mention the whole depressing roll call, or indeed any specific names, because I’ll leave out someone who someone thinks was the most important, so lets not go down that road, OK?

Mind, if anyone wants to offer me an upgrade, cybernetic, or otherwise, I wouldnt say no. Especially as my right knee is beginning to become a more serious issue lately, so I suspect my fight to avoid getting replacement joints may not go on much longer. Unless it gets really bad, I intend to wait until the Autumn at least (job probation period, pair of holidays) before getting it done, but then I might have to give in, and go under the knife, but… hey, this is next year, which I’ll probably cover at weekend!

Fine, review of 2016. In truth, not an awful lot to say.

The year began with waving goodbye to the last evidence of ever being a man, the change of passport to one that says I’m a woman! Yes, it was special the first time I applied for a job as a woman, I must say. It was also nice not to actually be known by one name, but applying for jobs as another, while waiting to be able to sort out the whole name thing, I must admit. Seemed to work pretty well, as it didnt take forever, but still long enough to get offered a job. Yes, the irony of being offered a short term one, then a day later, the one I really wanted, and the one I’m currently in, after such a long period of trying to get something was amusing, but its over now, and its going to take something special to get me to move again now, willingly at least! Fine, a nice acting tour, or a movie, might, but otherwise…planning to stay!

Let me just say that I have no idea when the last year was that I never left England, let alone the UK. Its a long time ago, but exactly when, not a clue. The last year I didnt leave the UK would be 1995, the year my mother’s second husband died, because we knew it was going to happen, so planned to holiday in Scotland that year, so we could get back quickly if needed, and we did! But not to leave England, no idea, as we went to Scotland, or Ireland, as children a number of times, relatives, and all that. So its possible that we are going back to 1967, when the holiday was a visit to some relative in Cornwall, to find the last time that happened, but dont quote me on that!

As I said before, I fell on my feet, when I finally got this job, I think its the most interesting of all the jobs I applied for, or certainly among them, and its not just an average call centre job, even if I do spend my shifts wearing headphones, and talking to clients. But yes, I’m happy there, thats the main thing.

To be fair, its going to take a while for the finances to recover totally, especially if I keep taking 2 US holidays a year, but fine, I’m planning to do it, regardless. Well, lets face it, on what I’ve seen this year, my time might be nearly up!

Other things, oh, a new book was written this year, which sold a few copies, but hasnt inspired me to become a full time author. Fine, ECT might not be everyone’s perfect book material, but a few more sales, all the same… Oh, and fine, there is still part of me that wishes I could have done some personal research on the subject matter, but anyway…

OK, video time. I gather from You Tube that there are some more modern songs with this title I could have chosen, but hey, this is the one I knew as a child.

Come back and stay, yes. But what choice?

Well fine, I still cant tell you what I got for Christmas, as I’m still the only one here at present. Having seen someone briefly on Facebook a couple of hours ago, I know they are about somewhere, but that could be anywhere between here, and London! I will actually have to go out for some supplies tomorrow now, as the milk is pretty much gone, and the 2nd loaf of bread purchased hasnt survived perfectly, but… Good job I’m not over concerned about what I am getting I guess, lol?

Anyway, what I started doing today, was to start looking at the final details of what I’m jokingly calling my present to myself, my 10 days in Hollywood next May! Given obvious budget limitations, then no, I’m not going to be staying at any of the swish hotels, unless someone else wants to pay! In truth, somewhere like here is probably more my end of the scale.

https://www.wyndhamhotels.com/travelodge/hollywood-california/travelodge-hollywood-vermont-sunset/overview

Or if I brave basic economy, mainly a leg issue, the money I could save would allow me something like this

https://www.wyndhamhotels.com/days-inn/hollywood-california/days-inn-hollywood-near-universal-studios/overview

which looks far nicer, is closer where I want to be, but yes, how hellish is that flight going to be?

The other option I’m considering, is what I did last time I visited Hollywood, and rent an apartment via Airbnb. To my surprise, I found a couple pretty close to Hollywood Boulevard that look decent, and are a reasonable price. For example

https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/3281853? or https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/3292367?

Which both look nice, and I could then at least save on food, as I could cook for myself, of sorts, some nights. So which route do I choose?

The advantage of hotels is that when I arrive, everything is there waiting for me. No need to go out dashing for provisions, everything is provided, well in a coffee making sense, at least! And the bed gets made, and in these cases, breakfast is provided, so… The disadvantage, you’re eating out each night, or even if you get food delivered, you’re paying for the privilege. Not that I mind doing so, but if you’re trying to budget…

The advantage of a rented apartment, the fact that you can save (for a few nights at least) by cooking for yourself, by buying cheap meals in a store, which is what I did last time. Main snag, the fact that when I arrive wonderfully jet lagged, I have to go out and buy basic provisions, almost before I do anything, if I want a drink, and the like, and I suspect I will! The other advantage is, if one day I get inspired to write (ha ha) instead of hitting the town, I can. Hotel, the staff want to do your room, you have to get out, and so…

I know, no one is going to give me an answer, or advice on this on here, but I can ask. So which would you do?

1. Fly in comfort (prem economy), stay in a pretty basic budget hotel.
2. Fly in economy (coach), stay in a nicer hotel
3. Fly in comfort (as per 1), and stay in an apartment.

At this moment, I’m tempted by 3, but I know I will not want to go shopping soon after I arrive, even if it should be late afternoon/early evening, not late at night.

So…?

The video. As so often, the clue is in the blog title!

Where Did I Go To, My Lovelies?

Well, yes, in ideal circumstances, I’d have written this on either Tuesday, or Wednesday, but if I planned to do that, in all honesty, it wouldnt happen. So lets settle for today, especially as Facebook conveniently reminded me about it this morning, not that I needed reminding!

Thats right, one year ago, which was actually the Friday, so I must have been keen, I was commenting on my forthcoming trip to Los Angeles, for 4 glorious weeks, starting on the Wednesday. Though actually, it was only the second thing on the comment, as firstly was the job interview I had on the Tuesday, the last thing I would do before leaving. As history now knows, I didnt get that job, actually found out that fact on arrival in California, ah well…

Now, here I sit, looking at a probable return to Los Angeles next May, though dates, and duration are currently yet to be decided, until I know what week work will let me have, and whether I can get a few days on top, either side of it. Also, I will have to take a look at finances early next year, see what I think I can afford, and play it from there. Ideally, 10 days, but if it has to only be 7, then so be it. In that sense, its going to be a hotel, not an apartment, just because it wont be practical to buy provisions for just 7, or 10 days, as opposed to 4 weeks.

Fine, if that little apartment in Verbena Drive was available, then maybe I’d have been tempted, but now… going to be a hotel, I’m sure.

But yes, its going to be funny when I leave here on Wednesday, and head to Bradford, not Hollywood, to think back about it. The other funny thing, that first proper pay going into my bank on Friday, that will be good.

OK, while we’re on about Los Angeles, lets talk baseball! Yes, the Dodgers are now one win, or one Giants loss away from winning the division again. Would be lovely if it happened today, as its Vin Scully’s last home commentary before retirement. He has got 3 more games, next weekend, in San Francisco, but that will be it, after 67 years! Yes, 8 years before I was born, he began commentating on Dodgers games, in Brooklyn, and only now he’s retiring! Believe me, he will be so missed! If there is one Dodger I would love to meet, its him, though technically he wont be one by the time I’m next there. So fine, Clayton Kershaw might have that role then, though the chances of me meeting either, is probably zero. Yes, about as likely as talking to Jean Harlow’s ghost at Glendale!

So where do I go to on Wednesday? Well, last year, it was Hollywood, this year, Bradford! At least the latter pays me money. Now, if Hollywood want to offer me money too…?

The video, well, I’ve given a few clues, I guess?