We made it quite successfully, by train, bus, taxi and foot, to Istanbul from Budapest and it was amazing. I had such a great time, saw a ton of amazing things (so many that I still need some time to process where I saw what), ate some great food and had some fantastic experiences. I said goodbye to Nina on Friday morning, headed to the airport and set out for the second portion of my trip- the UK.Friday, my cousin Paula (she’s one of my favourites), came to get me with her two girls, Amelie and Isla. The last time I was in England to see all the family was in 2013 when Mom and I came after our trip to Russia and Finland. Isla was just about a month old and Amelie was 2. They have grown up and changed so much. They are real little people now with such wonderful personalities. Mom had told me all about them and Paula and I text regularly so I know bits about how they are doing and what’s happening, but how much more wonderful is it to see them in person and get tons of cuddles and hear all their stories.
We had a pretty chill day, topped off with a specially planned cousin night of pampering. Face masks, eye masks, foot masks, maltesers, red wine and Coronation Street… someone had been paying attention to what I like and knows me well! I was relaxed and ready for the big day ahead.A couple months ago I texted my cousins, (Daniel, Karyn (my other two favourites) and Paula) about a festival in Scotland that was happening on the weekend I was coming to England. I wanted to see if any of them wanted to join me and Daniel was able to work it into his schedule. My favourite band was to headline this festival and so we were going to make a quick trip up.
I had been keeping an eye on the weather and not so surprisingly, they were forecasting 90% chance of rain, heavy rain, and 16 degrees. Not ideal for being in a field all day, listening to music, but our plane tickets were bought and we were doing this.A bright and early start on Saturday, Paula dropped me at the airport to meet Daniel and we were off. We landed nice and early in Edinburgh and decided to spend some time walking around the city centre before heading to the festival. There were a few different festivals going on so the city was busy! We wandered up to Edinburgh castle, through some of the festival activities in town, over to Scott monument and up the 297 steps (which we then had to come back down) and then took the train over to Linlithgow.All I can say was that the festival was fantastic! The prosecco was flowing, and the music was great. The Complete Stone Roses were the first act I wanted to see. A cover band but for the first time ever, I actually understood all the lyrics to the songs! Colonel Mustard and the Dijon 5 were the next act that piqued my interest. They were fun and they had tons of interaction with the audience and were obviously a crowd favourite as everyone knew their dances and songs and people came dressed for the gig. Melanie C (Sporty Spice) was djing next and she played songs that were like a little slice of the past. So much fun!Finally, after a full day, it was time for James. I travelled to New York City to watch James open for Squeeze at Radio City Music Hall in 2008. I have seen them only 4 times in total and this was to be magical #5. I was so excited. I’m talking squealing little girl excited.
And it was magical. We were close, they started slowly, to get us in the mood, with “Out to Get You”, one of my favourites and then they let loose! It was a James show, like the others I had been to, where they play new material, don’t take requests, don’t play all the old hits and favourites but as Tim Booth told us, read the audience and respond to what they see. They read us right because they played for 2 hours and we didn’t leave them for a single moment.The show was everything I had hoped for, and more. It was so amazing! But the night wasn’t over yet. We had a lot of night ahead of us because we hadn’t booked accommodation and were planning to mooch around Edinburgh until it was time to head back to the airport for our 6am flight. We went back to town, went to a late-night pub that had live music and dancing called WhistleBinkies. It was a great spot and we were able to chill, listen to the band, and kill some time.
The conditions at the festival had been perfect- rain would have meant a mucky mess and as the whole thing was on a bit of a hill, we would have all probably been gathered along the fences as we slid down the slippery hill. We couldn’t have asked for better weather! All that rain they had been calling for had held off until we were coming out of the pub, which was perfect. We went to the tram and headed back to the airport. It was 3am at this point… only a few more hours to go!
A little lie down in the airport, a full Scottish breakfast and we were back on the plane, heading back to England. Our 24 hours (22 actually) were over. We had CurryFest to get to! My aunts had organized a family get-together for the Sunday afternoon so we were coming home to get changed, showered, and ready to go meet up with all my aunts and all my other favourite cousins. We went back to Daniel’s and I got to spend some time with Jo, and Henry and Edward.I am not a good sleeper so while I may have dozed a bit here and there, I was going on pretty much no sleep at this point. I was so overwhelmed and excited to see how many of my relatives were able to make the journey in. I insisted we take a family photo to mark the occasion.Aunty Linda and Aunty Jen had put together a curry feast! My nan used to always comment because our family loves a good curry and I have never been a real fan. I think it’s the spiciness (hot) that I mostly don’t like, as I do eat all the rest. Anyway, while others assumed we would have a barbecue or pizzas, I knew my aunts wouldn’t let me down and that it would be CurryFest 2018, and it was! What a spread! My nan (and mother) would be proud. I ate my fair share. Tim (my favourite Welsh cousin) wasn’t able to join us but he had taken the time to make a banoffee pie- my favourite!! It was such a wonderful day and I couldn’t have asked for a better way to end my vacation. I was spoiled with cuddles from George, giggles and Olympic cuddles from Benji, and time with all my cousins and aunts and uncles.It was a late night and by the time we made it home, I was shattered. It had been 42 hours since I had last slept… it was time for bed!