“Back Home” in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Amazingly (my powers of recovery are far better than I thought they would or could be) I was up, ready and at a breakfast table in the hotel by 08.30 hours on the morning following the party. Less than 4 hours alcohol aided sleep and I didn’t have a sore head. Or feel nauseous. The hard training had obviously paid off!

I enjoyed a good breakfast with even better company and was able to chat with people that I just didn’t find time to chat with the previous night but all too soon it was time to say my farewells, check out of the hotel and head back to Covent Garden. I had a lunch date with my ‘little’ sister Christine who I hadn’t seen for 4 years. And we were being joined by her son Bradley, his partner Shorona and their two children, Cody and Lottie. 

I reached Covent Garden shortly after noon and stood outside the underground station  looking left, right, straight ahead,left,right,straight ahead as throngs of people were milling around. 

Thirty minutes passed by. Where could she be? I checked my ‘phone. Dead. The battery had run out of charge. I looked around for a public ‘phone box (booth for non-UK readers). They’re not a common sight any more in the UK (the advent of mobiles has virtually eradicated the need). And I saw one. Not more than 60 yards away. 

I made the call. My sister answered. She was waiting for me only 60 yards away from where I’d previously been standing (dramatic, isn’t it!). I walked back in the direction I’d just come from and then I saw her and then we hugged (heart wrenching stuff this).

We retired to a nearby pub (they seem to be on nearly every corner in Covent Garden) to chat about what life has been like foreach of us in the ensuing 4 years since we last saw each other.

Eventually Bradley, Shorona, Cody and Lottie turned up and it was time to set off for our lunch. But not before Cody posed with a street entertainer.

And then it was time for lunch at T.G.I Friday’s

Once inside it was time for another pose by Cody with a superhero 

Cody is the one on the left!

Chris, my sister, and proud Nana of the recently born Lottie.

Three generations of ‘amigos’

And a family shot.

We enjoyed a fantastic 4+ hours with each other before the time came for us to say our goodbyes, hug and promise each other that it wouldn’t be 4 years before we saw each other again.

After an extremely restful sleep I got ready and went for a final (well on this trip at least) walk around Covent Garden and then enjoyed an English breakfast back at the hotel. I checked out and then called (ordered online) an Uber taxi.

Now when I was last in England Uber didn’t exist but my friend John had mentioned it when we were out on our Jolly Boy’s Outing ( I don’t know how I remembered but I did) and I registered the next day. 

I got a message back to inform me of the vehicle type, the registration, the driver’s name and a photograph of him. It advised that the taxi would be with me in 2 minutes. It was and it took me all the way to Ealing for just £22.83. And the driver was reluctant to take a tip. If you’re visiting London I highly recommend it.

Why Ealing you’re thinking. Well, that’s where my best friend lives. And he offered to put me up for my final night in the UK and run me to Heathrow airport the next morning. Oh, and I’d used him for a mailing address for all of my online purchases!

First job when I got there was to get all my stuff down from his loft, remove the packaging and pack it in my suitcases. Easy. Well I didn’t think that when I saw the parcels.

Did I let my fingers get a little too busy on the keyboard? Would it all fit in with the stuff I’d already bought? Well I got it all in and there was still space left in my two cases let alone my carry-on. Only one thing to do. Go ‘hit’ the supermarkets for all of those little treats that we can’t get on Ambergris Caye.

With the shopping out of the way it was time to get item number 6 off of MY Cuisine List. Kleftiko, that’s what I wanted so Janet, John and I took a bus and went to the Wine & Mousaka restaurant near Ealing Broadway.

With the meal finished there was just time to get one more drink (OK, two) in an English pub. It just had to be done !

Even though we really should have gone to bed when we got back to their house we sat up reminiscing about the good old days (for non-UK readers read ‘back in the day’) as we looked at old photographs.

The next morning I was up, showered, shaved and dressed shortly after 06.00 hours and I even got the bonus of a coffee brought to my bedroom by my best mate John.

After kissing Janet goodbye we went to the airport where I checked in. After around 20 minutes John and I said our goodbyes. 

It was a great visit but I was pleased to be heading back home. Home to Ambergris Caye and Rose and Ziggy.

Oh, what did I bring back? Loads of stuff. And here’s just a SMALL sample:

A new toy (a squeezing frog) for Ziggy.

Which he loves (but Rose loves it too).

Some dental treats for Ziggy

And some dental ‘bombs’for me!

And a new weatherproof for me.  Bring it on Chaac!

The headline for today’s edition is based on the single released in 1970 by the England World Cup squad (rather apt really as the European Championships are just about to commence) which reached number 1 on the UK Singles Charts. Amazingly it didn’t make the charts in the US!

“Don’t Stop the Party” 

Amazingly after the rigours of the previous day I awoke reasonably early at 06.00 hours. And I didn’t have a thick head or feel nauseous. Probably the Chinese meal that did it!

I felt remarkably good but not so good that I was going to be silly. I decided that this would be a lazy day. A walk around London, pop in to some shops to see if anything caught my fancy, a couple of beers at lunchtime with some simple pub grub. 

But then I got a Facebook message from Carlo (he of Carlo & Ernie’s Runway Bar) “Did I have a 5 foot by 3 foot Arsenal flag to fly from one of the flagpoles at the bar?” Well I didn’t but I knew where I could get one. The Arsenal Armoury store, only 4 train stops away. It would compliment the Mesut Özil decal on the ceiling of the bar.

So I got ready, had breakfast and took the tube from Covent Garden to Holloway Road and made the short walk to the store where I found a flag and was out of the store within 10 minutes.

Now in ‘shopping ‘ mode I decided to see what little surprises I could get for Rose so I garnered up my courage (or I found my stupid button) and headed back to the Primark (aka Primani) store in Tottenham Court Road.

Unencumbered by not having to wander around the racks with an iPad in my hand I let my natural good taste (sic) take over and bought items of clothing that I thought would look good on Rose. I didn’t want to return to Ambergris Caye with half empty suitcases.

For lunch I popped in to a pub in Covent Garden (I really cannot remember which one) for a couple of pints of bitter and a Ploughman’s Lunch (that knocked number 4 off of MY Cuisine List).

I didn’t take a photo but it looked a little like this:

Whilst sitting in the pub I decided that I’d make an impromptu visit to see my nephew Bradley, his partner Shorona, their son Cody and their newly (just 7 weeks old) born daughter Lottie. So I ‘phoned him and told him I was on my way to Romford railway station.

The journey only took around 30 minutes even though it involved 3 changes of train and within 10 minutes of arriving Bradley had collected me from the station and we were on our way to his house where I got to reacquaint myself with my 6 year old great nephew (and he is GREAT) Cody and his new baby sister Lottie.

A much, much bigger Cody than when I last saw him 4 years ago.

And  Lottie, his ‘new’ baby sister.

And the proud Mum

Proud Mum Shorona with little Lottie.

And my nephew Bradley with his little girl.

I had a great couple of hours soaking up and enjoying my time with Shorona, Bradley, Cody and Lottie but I had a party to go to the next day – primary reason for my trip to England – so I left them around 21.30 hours.

The next morning after breakfast I checked out of the hotel (leaving my suitcase with the Porter – I’d be back there the next day) and headed to Watford, the venue for the party.

I checked in to the hotel just in time to join a number of the party goers for lunch. Time to knock another menu item from MY Cuisine List.

The choice was an Italian restaurant

where I chose Funghi Alla Bruna to start

My photo doesn’t do this Starter justice, it was delicious.

followed by Fegato De Vitello Al Burro E Savia

Calves liver to you and me! Number 5 off the list.

We got back to hotel with just enough time (well the guys did anyway!) to shower, shave, dress, etc before planting ourselves down in front of the TV ( beer in hand obviously) to watch the FA Cup Final ( well most of it anyway – it went to extra time) before heading off to Vicarage Road. We were going to PARTY!

Vicarage Road, home of Watford FC and on our way to the Sir Elton John Suite. 

The shy and retiring birthday ‘boy’ John and his wife Janet.

I never did get a bit of cake. Personally I think he hired it for the night!

Ex work colleagues Nicky, Janet and Maria.

Jeffrey, an ex-adversary when it was time for negotiating contracts.

Jenny and Ricky down from Scotland.

Rozalla and John. We tried to get her to sing but .

And then John made the speech that he promised he wasn’t going to make. And it went on, and on and on!

But I forgave him

He was sorely tempted to pat me on the head.
All too soon it was midnight. The barman shouted out “Last orders please”. The partygoers to a man (and woman) retorted ” Don’t stop the party“. But it didn’t work. The shutters came down. 

This didn’t stop us though. We just went back to the hotel and continued it there. Some of us (yep, me included) continued on until  04.00 hours. And I can remember it all. A great night/morning.

The next edition brings to an end (aren’t you glad!) my trip to the UK.

The headline for today’s edition is based on the single (one of Rose’s favourites) released in 2012 by Pitbull which reached number 17 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number 7 on the UK Singles Chart.

“I Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down” away from San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

I enjoyed a little lie in after the extremes of the previous day and didn’t get up until around 06.30 hours and after showering etc I went for breakfast. I knew that on this day above most other days I needed food in my stomach. This was the day for The Jolly Boys’ Outing.

But before I give you the gory details of the day a bit of background information as to how the Jolly Boys’ Outing came about might be of interest (or not. You decide!).

I mentioned in a previous edition that my best friend John Townley and I first started working with each other in 1982 and this remained that way until 1995 when we went our separate ways. I , in a fit of pique, decided to leave News International (the company I’d been at for 24 years) when Rupert Murdoch’s son-in-law was appointed above me. I was told that he wouldn’t be there long. All I had to do was nursemaid him. Make sure that nothing went wrong. I was so much younger then though and maybe had too much pride. So, I handed in my notice and left six months later.

John left the company a few months before me. He didn’t see  his career going the way he had planned it (and John has always been a great planner. He produces a spreadsheet for the weekly shop!). John joined a newspaper and magazine distribution company and very quickly worked his way up the ladder. Ultimately being appointed Managing Director. Me? I stuck with newspapers and eventually (after a whirlwind 18 months working for the larger than life Richard Desmond) joined Mirror Group Newspapers (which subsequently became Trinity Mirror).

We both enjoyed very successful careers with our respective companies but in 2005 the major newspaper and magazine publishing companies put their distribution contracts out for tender.The ‘bidding’ was brutal because the three national distribution companies (Smiths NewsMenzies Distribution and Dawson News (John was in charge of this company)) were fighting for survival.

Frontline (a company that held around a 34% share of the magazine business in the UK) decided not to appoint Dawson News. This was followed very soon after by the same decision by Mail Newspapers. This was one loss too many for Dawson News and it went in to administration. John was out of a job. I mean what company needs 2 managing directors.

Me? I concluded the contract negotiations and then was told that my services were no longer required. Redundant. No complaints though. These things happen.

So John and I (I did do some consultancy work but it didn’t keep me fully occupied) found ourselves with plenty of time on our hands. What could we do with it? Go to pubs that sold real ale that’s what. And so the Jolly Boys’ Outing (we’d meet every 6/8 weeks) began and it continued that way until Rose and I moved to Ambergris Caye 4 years ago. My trip to London provided the opportunity to go on an outing (all right, a piss up) again.

Knowing that we were going to savour.(OK, sink) a lot of beer I decided that it called for a full stomach so why not cross number 3 off of MY Cuisine List. Pie & mash was ideal fodder for the day that lay ahead of me so I set off for the dark side. I was going to South London. Manze’s pie and mash shop in Tower Bridge Road. And John was going to join me.

We were to meet there at 11.00 hours ((we had to get the food out of the ‘way’ early if we were going to have our first beer by noon (that is what John had planned – it was on the spreadsheet he sent me!)).

I got there slightly late (I’d under estimated the walking distance). John was there (told you he is good at planning!).

A proper pie and mash shop.

And proper pie and mash!

A couple of shakes of the malt vinegar bottle and it’s ready to go!

With meal number 3 off the list it was time for the fun (you could substitute mayhem) to begin. First stop The Royal Oak in Tabard Street (very close to Borough tube station)

and a very welcome pint of Harvey’s Best Sussex Bitter.

John and I were just finishing our first pint when Geordie and Dave (they asked if they could join me) arrived. They’re both Northerners and didn’t fancy pie and mash so they’d gone to another pub instead!

“Cheers” from the Jolly Boys.

By the way if you are ever in London and close to the Borough this is a pub well worth visiting. Great beers and a menu that you don’t expect to come across at a back-street pub.  You don’t normally find fayre such as whitebait, duck liver pâté, rabbit in mustard sauce,game pie,goats cheese and beetroot salad. And they do great puddings too. All reasonably priced.

And the ‘governor’ is a very relaxed guy too!

The next stop was scheduled to be The Harp in Chandos Place but we took a slight detour for a walk around the wonderful Saint George the Martyr church.

We didn’t make it to the tube station before we just had to go in to another pub. To make use of the toilets! But while we were in there, well, we just had to have a pint!

Now what happened in there is a true story. Hard to believe but true. Honestly.

We were just finishing our drinks when the co-partner of the pub we’d just left came in to the bar. He saw that we were about to leave and handed a twenty pound note to John. ” Have the drink at the next pub on me”, he said. It’s the truth.

Well we made it to The Harp and hadn’t been there long when we were joined by Jon Dyer, another ex-colleague and a good friend of mine.

The Jolly Boys grow by one!

I’ve got to admit now that the rest of the day is a bit of a blur. We definitely went to a few more pubs. I definitely drank a few more beers. I most definitely got drunk. We became a little bit silly. Definitely old enough to know better . But…

My better side!

We did make it to a Chinese restaurant in China Town (none us can remember which one) where I managed to a) knock my beer over and b)fall up the stairs. Yes, up the stairs! It definitely was a case of “I can’t stand up for falling down“.

But the food did the trick (well for me anyway, the other guys appeared none the worse for wear) and we were able to finish off the day at De Hems Dutch Cafe Bar in Soho ( John with his planning skills had made sure that our final watering hole was close to my hotel).

A great day in great company (me excluded!).

The headline for today’s edition is based on the single released in 1980 by Elvis Costello which reached number 4 on the UK Singles Chart.

“Friends Don’t Let Friends Dial Drunk” to San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

After a very restful sleep I awoke around 05.30 hours (a bit of a lie in really) got up, showered, shaved and dressed and went out for an early morning walk around Covent Garden. Deprived of my early morning veranda time this was the next best thing and helped build an appetite for breakfast.

Not an Estel’s Dine By the Sea breakfast it’s true but very good nonetheless. And I’d brought a little bit of Estel’s with me. Well I just had to, didn’t I !

Spot the T shirt!

Belly full it was time for a spiritual experience. I had a pilgrimage to make. Oh and a special item to get. 

Oyster card at the ready I made the short walk to Covent Garden tube station and made the brief journey (only 4 stations) to Holloway Road and I was there. The place where dreams are made and magic is played. Emirates Stadium the home of Arsenal FC

Crossing the road I saw before me the hallowed walls of THE stadium. A shiver ran down my spine. I’m not used to the British climate any more!

I soaked up the atmosphere and sat with my footballing heroes for a while.

The Iceman , one of the team’s greatest ever players.

The rebel I loved to watch when I, like him at the time, was a teenager.

Thierry, the silky smooth goal scoring machine.


‘Chippy’, with the magical left foot.

With scenes of past glories whirling around my head I entered the Armoury, Arsenal FC’s merchandise store.

I wandered around the store wanting to buy an Arsenal ‘this’ or an Arsenal ‘that’ and then I saw the section I had been looking for. I chose the size I thought was right and went to the back of the store 

and watched the guy do what I had asked him.


With my mission accomplished it was time to cross off number 2 on MY Cuisine List so I headed off to the Barbican and found what I was looking for.

It was time for some fish and chips, English style!

A lovely wing of skate, some chunky chips (fries for non-UK readers) and some pickled onions. 

And the result?

Mission accomplished!

I didn’t bother with ‘Afters’ (the sweet course for non-UK readers) even though they had apple crumble on the menu, I didn’t have time I had people to meet.

Geordie (long time readers will, I’m sure, remember Geordie who we met when he was based in Belize as a member of BATSUB) hearing that I was going to be in London booked some leave and flew over from his base in Gütersloh


to join Dave (Dave also served time with BATSUB)

 The one on the right is Dave!

for a little (what an understatement that turned out to be!) reunion drink.

We met at the Punch & Judy – an extremely popular public house in Covent Garden and the rest of the night as they say is just a blur.

Geordie and Dave in civvies braving the English weather.

And the 3 of us

before things got messy. In fact it nearly got very messy when I was insistent that I ‘phone Rose to let her know what a great time we were having . Dave and Geordie with some gentle persuasion (and a little bit of swearing too) stopped me from doing so. Well, friends don’t let friends dial drunk!

Oh, I forgot to mention. I’m sure that I found the only Tottenham Hotspur fan within miles of the Emirates Stadium. I saw what I thought was a very nice lady and asked her – very politely- if she would mind taking a photo  of me between the famous Arsenal cannons. She agreed, focused the camera and then asked me to move slightly to my left. “Perfect” she exclaimed as she took the photo  and handed the camera back to me and scuttled off down the street.

Do you think she was telling me something!

The special purchase? Oh that was for Jaymon, the youngest son of Ernie ( THE Ernie of Carlo & Ernie’s Runway Bar) who is an avid Arsenal fan ( and a very nice young boy too).

An extremely happy Jaymon.

In tomorrow’s episode you can join me to experience choice number 3 on MY Cuisine List (and it’s the one I was looking forward to the most) and the reemergence of the Jolly Boys Outing after a 4 year absence.

The headline for today’s edition is based on track number 5 of the album entitled ‘Every Second Counts’ released in 2007 by the Plain White T’s which reached number 10 on the Billboard Hot 200 chart and number 3 on the UK Album Chart.

“Shop Around” for San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

In the previous instalment I left you in the United Club lounge at Houston airport where I was whiling away the time waiting for my plane to Heathrow Airport.

Rose had caught the 13.17 hours flight back to Belize but my plane wasn’t  taking off until  17.45 hours so I got myself a beer, a plate of nibbles, found a comfy chair and settled down with the paperback ( A Little Life) that I bought in the airport bookstore.

A few beers and a hundred and something pages later it was time to report to the gate for my flight.

Once on the plane I settled down in my seat, asked for a glass of champagne and got the movie channel on. Two films and a lovely tenderloin, followed by the cheese board and then ice cream all complemented by a very nice Pouilly- Fumé and I was ready for some shut eye.

I awoke for breakfast and by the time I’d finished eating we were making the descent and eventually touched down at 09.40 hours, some 9 hours and fifty minutes after departing from Houston.

I disembarked from the plane and made the long walk (Terminal 2  has grown so much since I left the UK) to Immigration where I joined the long queue but thanks to my new ePassport only took around 10 minutes before I was collecting my suitcase (actually to be precise it was bags- I had a rather large empty bag in my suitcase ) and walking to International Arrivals 

where I scanned the area looking for a board with my name on it, I’d booked a taxi to collect me and take me to my hotel. 

Not seeing anything with anything remotely like my name on it I got on the ‘phone to the taxi company and was deep in conversation when I could feel my space being invaded. There was an unseen person getting ever closer to me. I moved slightly to my left but the body moved with me. I went to move again when an arm wrapped around me and pulled me closer. I looked around ready to vent my feelings when I saw it was my best friend, John Townley. He’d come to the airport to welcome me back to the UK.

What a nice gesture you’re thinking. You are, aren’t you! Me? Well I know he was trying out his new free travel pass that he got when he reached the age of sixty. There’s no way he would have spent money to come and greet me! He’s normally very careful (some might say tight) with his money.

We were both telling each other how good the other one looked (why do we do this?) when we interrupted mid-flow. My taxi driver had found me. John and I said our goodbyes and I headed to Central London and pulled up outside my hotel.

No, not this one. But this one.

I checked in at Reception but was too early for my room so I ‘dumped’ my luggage with the Porter and headed straight to the nearest branch of NatWest. I needed to get some ackers (for non- UK readers this is slang for money) if I was going to be able to shop around!

With money in my pocket I took a short stroll through Covent Garden 


dwelling for a while to watch and admire a very talented street entertainer.

No wires to be seen!

And then to the underground station to load up my Oyster card with some spondulas ((for non UK readers this is another slang word for money  (see how easily I slipped back in to the vernacular)) and I was on my way to Tottenham Court Road. I had suitcases to fill!

First stop was 

I needed some underwear and socks .

And then I was ready for the important stuff. Shopping for Rose!

Primark , or Primani as Rose calls it, a retail chain (now with a store in the USA) that sells fast  fashion at inexpensive prices.

I walked in to the store to be confronted by an ever moving mass of females that moved effortlessly from rack to rack taking all in its way along with it. Undaunted I removed my iPad from my backpack and found the photos that Rose had sent me. Photos of the clothes and shoes she wanted me to find and buy. 

I wandered around the racks, floor to floor and then back again and one by one I found nearly all of the selections Rose had made. I did have to improvise occasionally and choose an item that bore the greatest resemblance. 

Feeling battered and bruised I made my way to the counter, paid and made my escape. I shopped at Primark and lived to tell the tale!

Needing some respite from that most brutal of shopping experiences I saw a most welcome sign above a store

Lush where the aromas made my Primark experience a distant memory!

And look what I found.

Swiftly joined by

How sweet!

And then my nose took me to

A simply amazing aroma.

Totally refreshed (and smelling very nicely courtesy of the free samples) I hit the next store on MY list.

Where I found that they had Ray Palour’s latest book on special offer. Too good to pass up!

Now I’ve not reached this age in my life without learning some lessons and I knew, I just knew, that I’d had enough shopping for one day. I was well and truly Primanied! So, only one thing to do. Head back to Covent Garden and


A pint and a proper newspaper!

It couldn’t get much better could it? It could you know. There was another pub on the opposite corner of the street.

I just had to, didn’t I!

Suitably refuelled I headed to hotel, went to my room, showered , changed and headed out again. I had meals to cross off my Cuisine List.

“Don’t mind if I do”.

Butterfly prawn for the Starter. Followed by

Prawn Biryani, Aloo Gobi and a plain Naan. Got to admit though that my eyes were bigger than my belly. I failed to clear the plates! I found room though for :

It just had to be done.

In tomorrow’s episode I venture to deepest North London for a pilgrimage. Another culinary experience. And a meeting of kindred do spirits. Exciting isn’t it!

Today’s headline is based on the single released in 1960 by The Miracles which reached number 2 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart.

“London Calling” San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Since moving to Ambergris Caye in May 2012 I never once had the slightest interest in returning to the UK for a visit. In fact before relocating here when saying our ‘goodbyes’ I actually said that the only way that my family and friends would see me again would be if they came to visit me here. 
During the intervening time there wasn’t the merest inclination to waiver. There were no strong reasons to go back. And they , whoever ‘they’ ( these people of perceived wisdom ) are , they always say “you should never go back”.
Well that all changed last December when I received an email from a previous work colleague. He was organising a major event.

No it wasn’t an invitation from Rupert Murdoch to attend his upcoming wedding to Jerry Hall (still can’t understand why I wasn’t on the guest list!). It was better than that. It was from my best friend John Townley. He wanted me to join around another 130 family and friends to help him celebrate his 60th birthday. It was definitely a case of London calling!
Now I first met John in either March or April 1982, I can’t remember the month let alone the day. I interviewed him for a vacancy we had with News Group Newspapers, a Rupert Murdoch owned company that comprised The Sun and the now defunct News of the World. I recommended ( at that time I didn’t have the authority to appoint ) him for the job. And so our friendship began. A friendship that grew stronger as each year passed even though we went our separate ways – work wise – some 13 years later.

My best friend John Townley around the time I first met him, thirty-two years ago. I know he’s scary looking but it didn’t put me off!

We ‘went through’ the Wapping dispute together and I believe that the hostile environment that we faced on a daily basis -sometimes there were as many as 3,000 very volatile pickets outside our place of work- brought us closer together. So, when I got the invitation my resolve not to go back to England disappeared and, after speaking to Rose ( I’m brave but not stupid), I replied and told him that nothing would stop me from being there.
I assumed that Rose would be going there with me but when I said I was only going to stay for a week she declined saying she’d only go if we were going for a month. Well, I wanted to go but not for that long so we reached a compromise. We’d have 4 nights together in Houston – go to a few restaurants, ‘hit’ a few stores- and she would head back home to Ambergris Caye and I’d take the plane to Heathrow.

I then got down to making the necessary arrangements. Flights to and from Houston ( we’ve used Miami, Dallas, Atlanta, Charlotte as ‘entry’ points for Belize but much prefer Houston) for Rose and me and then flights for me for the UK leg. And I decided to spoil myself and go business class for the transatlantic legs. 
Where to stay? Well for Houston it was a no-brainer. We’d stay at the same hotel that Rose used last year when she went to the UK, the Hampton Inn, Humble. A conveniently located hotel that offers a free airport shuttle. And within a 5 mile radius of the hotel which is really handy for trips to the local shopping mall and restaurants. As far as London was concerned I booked at a hotel in the Strand. I wanted somewhere that was centrally located with easy access to public transport.
With the travel and accommodation sorted I then got on to the important stuff. What stores we were going to visit in Houston to buy the stuff that you either can’t get on Ambergris Caye or, if you can, it’s exorbitantly priced. This was going to be a meticulously planned trip. The Garmin – and my wallet- were going to get a real work out!
Once I’d finished planning the Houston visit I turned with a vengeance to planning how I would spend my 7 nights and 8 days (my final day would allow no more than getting to Heathrow airport to catch the plane home). There were people to see, favourite (and sorely missed) food dishes to say ‘hello’ to again , stores to visit and British pubs to frequent to wet my whistle ( I love Belikin but …).
But would 7 days provide enough time to purchase enough ‘stuff’ to use my 140lbs bag allowance? I pondered over this. And I pondered some more (regular readers will know that I quite like a little ponder) and concluded that I may need to have some help. So I called on my good friend Mr World Wide Web for some online shopping. And did I do some shopping (you’ll have to wait for a future issue to see just how much shopping I did).
The months flew by and before we knew it the 12 May had arrived, it was time to drop Ziggy off at Pampered Paws for his vacation 

and for us to take a Tropic Air flight to Philip S.W Goldson International Airport for our flight to Houston.

Four and a half hours after leaving Ambergris Caye we landed at George Bush International Airport and joined the unbelievably long queue waiting to clear Immigration. What is it with airports? Why don’t they allocate staff numbers in line with anticipated air traffic?

Anyway we cleared Immigration some two hours after we landed, collected our suitcases (I’m sure they’d gathered dust they’d been there so long) and ‘phoned the hotel to come and collect us. They were great and the shuttle bus was with us in just over ten minutes and we were in our room within thirty minutes of calling the hotel.

We were up bright and early the next morning and after breakfast headed to collect our golf cart substitute.

Armed with our recently updated (my CIO Rose had taken care of this) Garmin Sat Nav we intrepidly set off punching in the co-ordinates (the zip codes) that I written down months before when drawing up the master plan (impressive eh!).

First on the list was the Apple store. Rose needed (I’ve never quite been able to work out the difference between ‘need’ and ‘want’) a new ‘phone. With this insatiable ‘need’ taken care of we traversed the highways of Houston hitting store after store after store. 

And then I just ‘needed’ a refresher!

I can only take so much shopping in one day.

The four nights flew by and it was time for Rose to head back to Ambergris Caye with our purchases (and my dirty washing)and that’s when she found out her suitcase was nearly 25% over weight. Fortunately for us she was taken care of by an extremely friendly and helpful United Airlines employee who accepted the overweight bag without any penalty.

“Bye Rose”.

Me? I headed off to the United Club lounge for a well deserved drink!

Oh and if you’re wondering about Ziggy well he had a great break too making new friends.

The next thrilling instalment finds me in London doing my version of Men Behaving Badly (or, I’m old enough to know better).

The headline for today’s much awaited edition (who am I kidding) is based on the single released in 1979 by The Clash which reached number eleven on the UK Singles Charts.