Monday, 30 December 2013

Spoiling by the BBC

The BBC are spoiling me.  Really they are.


I had awaited, with breath bated, Christmas Day when I knew Matt Smith would regenerate into Peter Capaldi and we'd had a new era of Doctor Who.  The day was upon us and, due to it being Christmas Day and me having various Chrismassy/family things to do, I had to watch it on my tablet on catch-up later.

That was fine, I didn't mind.  I just needed to watch it.  I'm a little unsure about the episode.  When the wonderful David Tennant transformed into Matt, there was a lot more action and tension.  Probably because this hand-over was spread over 300 years or so, that tension somewhat evaporated.


Still.  I enjoyed it.  It was a very different episode to the normal 'Phoenix from the ashes' we're used to.  We saw The Doctor age, something that was, until now, unheard of.  I liked that touch.  It was, also, good to see the Crack back, and the Silence - though they could have been built upon.  I wonder if Clara's tears as she said goodbye to 'her' Doctor were real?  Capaldi's first line ("new kidneys") mirrored Tennant's "new teeth", which was a nice touch.  Let's hope he can shine as bright in the Whovian Universe as his predecessors have.


When Eccleston reinvented The Doctor, I didn't think anyone could fill his shoes, especially someone I'd only known from Casanova.  Of course, for me at least, David Tennant equalled Tom BakerMatt Smith had a very hard act to follow and did so very well, becoming a much more physical and madcap Doctor.


With Capaldi, we've returned to William Hartnell's age, the previous Doctors growing steadily younger, and we have a whole new slew of regenerations available inside him.  I'm pleased he began with humour, and I'm sure he'll be able to bring a certain darkness we've not seen before.


So.  Doctor Who.  Cool.




I heard on the radio, after a multitude of 'Coming Soon' ads on the TV and the Many Happy Returns minisode on the Internet, that Sherlock is back on New Year's Day!



This is the third, and I assume final given that Cumberbatch is now known worldwide thanks to Star Trek and The Hobbit (along with Martin Freeman - his Watson), series of the updated Sherlock series.  I have loved the series so far.  Really loved it.  From the comedic elements of dogging in the Hound of the Baskervilles to Sherlock's sharpness and intellect.  And I thought the end of series 2 (no spoilers for those that haven't seen it) was EPIC!


So, New Year's Day, BBC1, 9pm, I know where I'll be!


Oh yes, and there's more.  I, myself, will be on BBC Radio Humberside from around 11:30am (UK) on Thursday January 2nd!  I'll be interviewed by Blair Jacobs on my involvement with the wonderful Christmas O'Clock charity anthology and my writing in general.  Drop by if you get chance.  Their website is


Oh, and if only they actually did the episode where the Doctor comes to visit Sherlock and Watson, as per the little teaser trailer someone (I don’t think it’s official) has spliced together and scattered about the internet.  It looks SO good!


Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Someone's Stolen Christmas!

You'd Better Watch Out


You'd better watch out

You'd better beware

You'd better not shout

You'd better take care


Cos someone's

Stolen Christmas

This year


The elves are about

Searching everywhere

To find out who could

Ever really dare


Cos someone's

Stolen Christmas

This Year


They're hunting down the culprit

To see who it could be

They're finding who's

Been good or bad


And it could be you or me....


But it's getting close

To Christmas Day

And they just can't find

Who took it away


Cos someone's

Stolen Christmas

This year


So if it occurs

That the thief isn't found

Christmas just won't be

This time around


Cos someone's

Stolen Christmas

This year


The elves are really trying

But can't figure it out

And if they don't solve it in time

This year we'll have to go without


It's not looking good

They're scratching their heads

Now they're giving up

And going to bed


Now Christmas

Isn't coming

This year!


Originally found in my book Rudolph Saves Christmas, a little something for your enjoyment!

Christmas is coming...

Christmas is coming.  The goose is getting fat, but I eat turkey, so I'm not too fussed 'bout that.  I'm waiting for the snow to fall and the temperature to drop, for the river outside my house to freeze and the world to come to a stop.


And though the ducks will walk on water and the air will be just biting, I'll be fine with pen and paper, as long as I am writing.


This time last year I was in good cheer, for my second book was done.  It all had raced in such a blur, but now the race was won.  And since back then, I have been blessed with reviews so very fine.  My so long journey went so fast, and my books can surely shine!


Now Christmas is coming once again and more books I have in store, like Zits'n'Bits and Rudolph, and soon so many more.


I love to write, creating worlds no man has walked upon, and to take a reader by the hand and share with everyone.  I also love to find myself taken by a writer's hand, and led to places far and wide, discovering whole new lands.


I guess that on my Christmas list, I'd ask for a few more hours.  For writing, reading, marketing you need some special powers!  Just a couple, five or so, more hours in the day and I might get to do the things that keep on slipping away.  Work and life and family I thoroughly enjoy, but to fit it into 24, I'd have more me's to employ!


But so it is and such is life, it only makes us stronger.  But, Santa, if you're listening, can you make my days a little longer?

The Cats Pyjamas Burlesque



In a previous post I’ve gone into the history of both the term and the show because of an evening spent at the Yardbirds Rock Club in Grimsby.  I told of how my wife and I had a great night, though the first half was better than the last.


Well, Saturday brought our second foray into the world of wonder that is Burlesque.  I can safely say both halves of the show, performed by The Cats Pyjamas Burlesque Cooperative, where equally excellent.


We almost didn’t it make on the night.  Our babysitter told us, at the last moment, she had pleurisy.  Even without the fact our youngest is prone to chest infections and at risk from pneumonia, we couldn’t let her still come.  For a while, we were pretty much stranded, then my mother-in-law stepped into the breach and agreed to babysit.  Yay!


It wouldn’t have been so bad but we were meeting friends – burlesque regulars – there and they’d sorted the tickets.


I’m currently experiencing severe back pain, so getting dressed in my tuxedo was an unpleasant experience for me and probably quite funny for anyone else!  Yes, a tux isn’t my regular attire when visiting the Yardbirds, a brilliant (as I’ve attested before) place for a great night out, but the theme was James Bond – and I look good in a suit!


I wasn’t looking forward to standing all night as the pain in my back gets more intense when I stand still, but hey ho.  I wasn’t going to let it spoil the night.


We arrived about 15 minutes before the show was due to start.  Enough time to pick a spot and get a drink.  There were plenty of people in suits and dresses, looking very smart and glamorous.  One guy was dressed only in tight swimming shorts and another had an amazing costume based on whichever Bond film featured New Orleans voodoo (who do you do what remind me of the babe).  His outfit and makeup was brilliant.


One of the things that made the previous show we’d been to so enjoyable was the host, Snappy O’Shea.  She has a great repertoire and rapport and is fast and sharp.  She consistently had everyone laughing and this night was no exception.  Snappy’s quickfire routine was spot on the mark and had all of us joining in.


Last time, there was a large humour portion to the show.  They had the 50 Shades of Beige and the lollipop lady and more.  SOOO funny.  This time, the humour part of the dances was put aside to encompass the ‘Double Oh Heaven’ theme.  There were still laughs aplenty thanks to Snappy and her wonderful relationship with the dancers and stage people, such as Stormy, but the acts themselves were more classy and demure, in the main.  To a certain extent, I did miss this, but the dancers definitely made up for it.  They were beautiful and made sure we had something great to watch.  Each deserved their applause and cheers.


Special mention must go to Kiki DeVille, the Australian singer who opened and closed the show, and popped up (ooer missus) a couple of times between.  She was a fab singer, and her songs were brilliant.  We really felt for her poor wet, hot, bald pussy – the poor cat!


I didn’t win on the raffle this time, but, thanks to Snappy and the delightful Busty Goodrack (Kerching!) I didn’t seem to mind!


All in all, a brilliant show.  I’m looking forward to February 8th, when the Valentine special is on.  I’ve seen a good few acts at the Yardbirds, and it’s a great venue.  The Cats Pyjamas most certainly is the dog’s bananas!

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

What time is it? Christmas O'Clock!

A couple of years ago, I sat down to write some of the sequel to Sin.  As usual I had no idea what I was going to write, but I knew Sin would be 'strutting his stuff'.


1,000 words later, I discovered I'd written the beginning of a story which came to be titled 'Rudolph Saves Christmas'!  In the story, Rudolph (you’ll never guess) had to save Christmas!  No, really.


Anywho.  I have no idea how venturing into the world of an escaped lunatic who kills people with his mind could morph into a children’s Christmas story, but that’s pretty much how I work.  I just write.  I’ve just read an excellent blog post by Connie J. Jasperson, the author of the equally excellent Tower of Bones series on how she’s forcing herself to work to an outline to ensure things happen in her books the way she wants or needs them to.  I wish, sometimes, I could do that.


It appears I can’t.  Hence Santa from Sin.


I’m a member of the Myrddin Publishing Group and, under their banner, published my anthology Dark Places.  A number of the talented authors from the group, including Connie, have lent those talents to a very seasonal collection, with all of the proceeds going to charity.


The collection is called Christmas O’Clock and contains two books and six stories with subjects ranging from Magic Coal, a girl who has to face the North Pole courts to clear her name from the Naughty List and playing Scrooge in a school play.

The charity we’ve chosen is Water for Life, an international project aiming at helping people develop safe and sustainable water sources for their communities.  The charity’s website is


I join forces with such authors as Alison DeLucaNicole Antonia CarsonConnie Jasperson, Irene Roth Luvaul and Mary K. Mitchell in the collection, each of whom have successful books in steampunk, fantasy and more.


You can find Christmas O’Clock at the following places:


Amazon US:




Amazon UK:




Anyone who buys a copy of the book is welcome to a free copy of either Zits’n’Bits or Rudolph Saves Christmas, my own children’s books.  Just contact me through either my website or my Facebook page and leave me a message and I’ll be in touch!



Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Promises, promises...

Oops.  I had a story to tell and I had only so many words to use, but the idea didn't want to listen and spilled over, creating a bit of a flood - at least in comparison to what was initially needed.


As such, I have a lot of trimming to do!


When I visited the wonderful Writebulb peeps, I took part in their writing challenge.  My commitment was to write a 1,000 word flash fiction called The Masquerade, and finish my children’s story ‘Puddlebrain’.  The first part of this seemed easy.  A thousand words?  No problem.  The second part was also a cinch.  I knew exactly where Puddlebrain was going.  I could bash that down without no worries.


OK.  I should have been committed for my commitment.


Since I was there, which, granted was a little while ago and should have given me plenty of time, it’s been a little hectic.  But then, when isn’t my life?  And, as is usually the case – just look at Sin – my ideas don’t conform to a word count.


I don’t control the stories.  They control me, in a fashion.  As I’ve said before, I don’t plan or outline, I simply write.


So.  1,000 words?  When I reached 1,500 words I thought I was close to the end and it’d be fairly simple to trim it down to meet the flash requirements.  I could keep the ‘full-fat’ version for my upcoming anthology Darker Places but whittle away bits to squeeze into the margins.  As it was, I left out a little scene I wanted to put in, so I could work that into the final version too.


I finished the story yesterday.  It’s around 2,650 words.




A friend of mine from America, Cindy Harper, suggested I keep the current story and write another.  I’d love to.  Unfortunately, the deadline is this weekend, and I have an interview to do and a blog post for Sin.  And I have to bin 1,600 words!  So, perhaps not.  I’m not sure what would be quicker, writing 1,000 words or deleting 1,600, but the latter seems to be the faster option.


As for Puddlebrain?  She’s still lost in The Grimace, though it’s leading her out to face The Shadow.  I know this.  I can picture it.  I’ve run through the scenes and the dialogue.  I just haven’t managed to write it down yet.  But I will, and soon.


Just perhaps not by the end of the week.


So.  I knew that time ran away from me like a teenager in a slasher movie.  I knew whatever I wanted to do would actually be a struggle when it came down to it.  But I still said I would do it.  Silly billy.


Anywho.  Hopefully I’ll get the flash fiction sorted and delivered.  Then I can work on Puddlebrain and have it finished and get some beta readers on the case.


And then I may manage to talk to the police about what’s going to happen to Sin now he’s in handcuffs...


Time, though art mine friend and mine enemy in equal parts.  Why dost thou entwine thyself in my dilemmas?

Or something...

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

When Inspiration Strikes...

You can never tell when an idea may hit.  Or when one might seep in unannounced and take you by surprise.  A little nudge in the right direction is always welcome and today I had just that from the lovely Helen Murphy, an old school friend of mine.


Of course, when I say ‘old’ I mean from when we were at school together, not drawing her pension or leaving her teeth in a glass on the bedside table overnight...  Saying that, I’m not sure of the pensionable age in Australia, where she lives now...


Anywho-be-do.  I received an email from Helen earlier today in which she told me of the writing prompts from a group she attends.  Helen also sent me the poem she’d written triggered by said prompts.  It was excellent, as is all her poetry and I couldn’t help but reciprocate with something of my own.  I have to admit that it was off the top of my head and is ‘as it comes’, but I quite enjoyed the little creative interlude to my day so I thought I’d share it with you and give my thanks to Helen – young Helen that is.


Summer Loving

By Shaun Allan


The garden was overgrown now

A fire of wilderness

Where no man dare step

'Cross the breach

Lest they burn with

Heart's confess


'I told him not to come back'

She cried

Though was more of a

Hesitant whisper

But he was there yet

Or his body was

She'd buried him with her sister


The summer sun shone

Coating the world

In a sheen of shimmering heat

But its reach didn't reach

Into her shell

As her soul lay in shreds at her feet


At the jetty she'd seen

Her sibling and love

With a heat as hot as the sun

A deadly embrace wrapped in

Natures own clothes

Placed in her hand

A gun


Now her sister lies cold

And her lover so bold

Rots beside his lies


And as the sun sets

And the moon takes her hand

She looks on the garden

And cries




Oh, the writing prompts were as follows.  Maybe you’d like to see what you come up with?


Use one of these lines as a basis for a poem, story or true story.


1   The garden was overgrown now.


2   ‘I told him not to come back!’


3    He/She was there.


4    Use these three words in a poem, story or true story:  summer, shell and jetty.

Helen's poem was a wonderful piece about rekindled romance. I did think about following her lead but, well, you probably know me too well for that by now...



Friday, 22 November 2013

Illuminating the Bulb...

Also known as 'being illuminated by the bulb!'


I’m sure that makes no sense to you, dear reader.  Not many things I say probably do, but where would be the fun if they did, hmmm?  Well, let me enlighten you.


I would hope, a little over a week ago, certain things I said did make sense.  A little over a week ago, I had the genuine delight of visiting Chelmsford in Essex.  I’d been asked to pop down (as much as you can pop when the journey takes a little over 3 hours each way) and chat to a writing group – The Write Bulb.


I was actually asked a year ago but, for one reason and another, I couldn’t go.  The invitation was always there, hanging in the air like a cloud.  Not one of those nasty, dark, angry ones though, the ones that make you run and hide so they don’t drench you or jab at you with their lightning.  No, this was one of those light types that drift about the clear sky on a summer morn.  The kind that happily change shape from dragon to butterfly to rocket ship to keep you entertained whilst life is keeping you occupied.


So, finally, everything fell into place for the visit to take... erm... place.


Having never been to Essex before, I was pleased that Google Maps was my friend.  I set off nice and early (around 8:09am) with my supply of Sin postcards, Sin paperbacks and Lincolnshire Pork Sausages.


Yes, that’s what I said, sausages.  Not just any old sausage, either.  Lincolnshire Pork ones.  And not just any old Lincolnshire Pork ones.  Pettits award winning Lincolnshire Pork Sausages!  If you haven’t tasted them, you are missing something good.  Now you may think that’s an odd thing to take to a writers’ group meeting.  I’d tend to agree, not least because it was a tray of 40, but they were a special request from the person who invited me down.


Carlie Cullen, step forward.  Carlie is a wonderful writer, author of the equally wonderful Heart Search.  She’s part of the Myrddin Publishing Group I’m also a member of, and through which my Dark Places anthology is published.  And a finer group of people you’d be hard pressed to meet.


So.  The journey down was fairly uneventful, apart from me having to listen to a steady stream of static from my car stereo which seemed unable to grab hold of a station long enough to let loose audible music from the car speakers.  Even though I hadn’t met either Carlie or her lovely daughter Maria before, I felt like we were old friends.  The crispy bacon butty she made me for lunch cemented that feeling.


Did I mention I was a little nervous about the visit?  Or did you guess based on previous posts?  I feel I never know what to say or how to start.  I think it’s because I’m not entirely sure I have anything to say!  Or anything worth listening to, at least.  I say my ‘stuff’ in my books.  I ramble and delve and ponder in my writing through my characters.  Telling people about one of my characters is easy.  Telling people about me, not so much.


I walked into the room with Carlie and Maria, hoping we’d be early and I could psyche (remember, psyche with an ‘e’ not an ‘o’) myself up prior to the arrival of the rest of the group.  I didn’t have that chance.  A good few were already there with others joining us steadily.  And I was given the seat at the head of the table!


First up, after introductions, was the writing challenge.  I agreed to take part and had brought my journal all ready to go.  The subject was ‘The room in the tower,’ and we could write anything we liked along those lines.  We just had to ‘go for it’.  So I went for it.


As is usual for me, I had no idea where I was going with the story.  I still don’t really.  The 35 minutes we had, though, gave me chance to get a good start.  One or two of the troupe read out their stories, then I was asked to.



Still, it seemed to go down well.  I think.


Eventually, it was my turn to talk.  My escape routes were blocked and, at the head of the table, I could hardly duck my head and remain quiet.  But, what to say?  How to start?  OK, I knew what I wanted to actually tell them – my writing and publishing ‘career’, but...


Then John, a lovely, funny Scot, jumped in with a question before I had chance to draw a breath.  From that point on, things went pretty smoothly, I think.  The members of the group seemed interested in what I had to say (though they could be good actors) and asked some in-depth, great questions that actually made me think about my own writing.  I found myself realising things about how and why I produce the work I do, so even this became a sort of therapy.  I just hope I don’t get the bill through the post!  At least Sin doesn’t charge!


A few of them were gracious enough to buy copies of my book, for which I’m grateful, and some remained behind afterwards (even though we’d run over by half an hour) to chat.  I appreciated that.  Sarah-Jane – I hope your writing brings you the help it’s brought me (and thanks for following me on Twitter!), and James, please finish your story.  I want to see where it goes!


I thoroughly enjoyed myself with The Write Bulb and sincerely hope they remain in touch.  There are some talented people there and the group, as a whole, are a delight.


Oh, and I accepted the writing challenge of a 1000 word story on The Masquerade.  I’d best get started then!  In my defence, I have spent a fair amount of time reading, and when you’re sailing in a South Sea Bubble or dipping your toe in the Ocean at the End of the Lane, it’s difficult to put pen to paper.


Thank you Carlie, Maria and the Writer’s Bulb.  It was a long but enjoyable and fulfilling day.  I’ll maybe see you again next year!

Monday, 4 November 2013


Freddie Mercury and James Walshboth sang about it.  Freddie, I've been a fan of since forever and James (@jamesstarsailor)since I saw him earlier this year supporting Bon Jovi.


The aforementioned 'It' is Barcelona.  I was there the weekend before last and I loved it.


The journey kind of started back in February.  My wife had surprised me with an overnight visit to Belton Woods, a very nice hotel, for Valentine's Day.  On the way home, I was telling her how great it was.  She said "That's good.  You can sort the wedding anniversary.  Barcelona sounds good!"


Apparently, I discovered only whilst we were there, she'd immediately forgotten that jokey comment.


I didn't.


Our wedding anniversary, our first, was in September.  Unfortunately, almost every year, I have a 'shutdown' at work which means I work seven days a week, more or less, and ten hour days.  It's usually in September/October.  Last year was one of the few years where a shutdown didn't happen.  It means, however, that our wedding anniversary is now right in the middle of the shutdown!  I'm used to my birthday (October) being then anyway, but neither of us twigged with the shutdown.




Oh well.  It meant we'd just have to go later.




Waaaay back in April, I began to look into this Barcelona trip thinking my wife was at least half serious.  I looked into other places too, such as Prague and Dubrovnik, but kept going back to the Big B.  We went to Budapest for our honeymoon last year and absolutely loved the city - I was sure this would be a similar experience.


So.  The hotel.  In Budapest we stayed in a lovely little boutique hotel.  We prefer those to a big, flash affair.  Something more intimate.  As such, and with TripAdvisor as my friend, I was on the hunt.  Finding the right place, when you have a specific idea of what you're after, can be exhaustive, but I hit what I assumed was gold in the end.  The Praktik Rambla.  Excellent reviews and perfect location.  Apparently some of the rooms where meant to be cramped, but I'd pay for one of their Superior Rooms so hopefully that wouldn't be a problem.


Then the flights.  I'm used to flying from Manchester when going abroad.  I've gone from East Midlands or Humberside (my local airport) when going to Paris with work, and once from Heathrow and Gatwick, but otherwise, I think it's been exclusively from Manchester.  The cheapest flights I could find, though, were from Leeds Bradford.  And the times were perfect.  Flying out at half seven on the Friday morning and flying back at half six on the Monday evening.  That gave plenty of time in the city.


Add in airport parking and travel insurance and we were done.  I was going to pay for an executive car to take us to the hotel, but I opted for the Aerobus which picks up outside the airport and drops off a block away from the hotel - and was only about 11 Euros each, return!


My wife played a game on her phone called 4 Pics 1 Word, in which you have to find a song title from four cryptic pictures.  I took this idea and chose four photos - Freddie and MonserratBarcelona's Magic Fountain, an airplane and the entrance to the hotel - and made a card for her to figure out.  I slipped it into an envelope and that was one of her gifts.  I also wrote a poem in her card where the initial letter of each line spelled out B, A, R, C, E...  You get the picture.


It took a little time and a lot of disbelief for her to figure out what it meant, but she did and I had the reaction I'd hoped for.


I was told Leeds Bradford airport wasn't the easiest to get to.  I have to agree.  Especially in the dark with Google Maps on your phone to guide you.  No matter.  After a 3:39 am start, we reached Sentinel Parking just before 5:00 am.  I wanted to make sure we were at the airport a good two hours or so before our flight...


When we went to Budapest, there were only two lanes on at airport security and a HUGE queue of people to go through.  Due to the handbag my wife had (which had to go in her hand-luggage case) having a diamante skull on it and the X-Ray guy not being able to figure that out, her case had to go through about four times!  As such, we had to run to the gate with the stewardess calling to us that the gate was closing.  The only reason we made the flight was because of the overhead lockers being full so two other couples' and our cases had to go in the hold.




Anywho.  Sentinel was spot on.  A quick check in with them and we were at the airport within about 5 minutes then, a couple of hours later we were in the air.  I have to say, considering Monarch are a low cost airline, I was impressed with the standard of the plane.  I expected things to look a little worn, for example, as I've encountered on other airlines.  Apart from having not that much leg room, the plane was of quite a high standard.

We landed and took the bus to our destination, the Plaza de Cataluña, a gorgeous square with two large fountains, a plethora of pigeons and various other ornamental features.  Not, of course, that the pigeons were ornamental, but you know what I mean.

A quick walk around the square, Google Maps in hand, along a short street and we were at our hotel.  The Praktik Ramble has a small entrance.  It's one doorway.  But it spreads out above across the establishments either side, both eateries.  The entrance way is lovely and, once you're at reception, you can see up through the floors to the roof.

Our rooms weren't ready (check in was 2:09 pm and it was not long after lunch), so we left our cases and went for a wander.  By the time we'd returned, our room was ours and we booked in happily.


The room was fab.  Super high ceilings, massive bed, rainfall shower and a balcony to the tree lined street below.  Exactly what we wanted.  The free Wi-Fi signal was fairly weak so, when we were actually in the hotel, we pretty much used our normal data roaming - thanks to Vodafone's Euro Traveller option.  It's not often I have nice things to say about Vodafone, but Euro Traveller is quite good.


My wife loved the room, which was what I'd hoped for.  And she also loved the ambience of the hotel.  It had a massive terrace with free tea and coffee facilities for relaxation and a library (which I'd meant but forgotten to add a couple of my own books to).  The doorway to the room was massive, making us feel we were going through Alice's rabbit hole.


All the staff we met there, including Johanes, whom I'd mainly chatted through via email prior to the day, were excellent.  Very courteous, with a sense of humour and a keen desire for you to enjoy your stay.


My wife has hip problems due to the severe SPD she suffered whilst pregnant.  At the time, she ended up on crutches and as such took a walking stick with her.  We did a lot of walking!  Just as in Budapest, we walked where we wanted and used Google Maps to find our way back.  This method is great for finding small cafes or (in the case of Barcelona) huge squares only accessed by alleys and side streets.


There were a great many warnings, prior to going, that pick-pockets were rife, especially in La Ramblas, where we were staying.  I saw one comment that called Barcelona the ‘Mugging Capital of Europe’.  A friend of mine told me of how she’d experienced someone trying to steal from her handbag when she was there.  As such, we were super careful.  My wife had her bag strap across her body and carried it in front.  I had my phone and wallet in my front pockets, with some cash in the pocket rather than my wallet so I didn’t have to advertise its presence when I needed to pay for something.  When we were crossing roads, amidst a group of people, or when we were watching the street entertainers at night – break dancers, artists etc. – I kept my hands in front of my pockets so I’d feel if anything was amiss.  We didn’t experience anything untoward, thankfully, though a couple we’d met on the way there told us a pickpocket had, somewhat brazenly, tried taking his wallet from his pocket.


Overall, we thought Barcelona was wonderful.  The Familia Sagrada was impressive, the food lovely and the people, on the whole, very friendly.  Near the hotel was a huge amount of eating and drinking places, so there was a massive choice.  We ate at the same place for breakfast a couple of times and found a small student type bar that sold pints of lager and sangria for only 1.50 Euros.  We ate at the Hard Rock, which was OK for food but had wonderful staff, and my wife had noodles out of a box from Wok the Walk.  And on the last day, whilst waiting for the bus, we had an excellent meal of paella.  La Ramblas, even at the end of October, is very busy, long into the night.  Even though the hotel is at the top end, it was fairly quiet.  Closer to the southern end of La Ramblas, near the sea, there are living statues expertly done.

Oh, and the weather was fantastic!  We left the UK to severe storm warnings, high winds and rain.  In Barcelona, it was mostly clear skies and around 26°C.  I couldn’t have asked for more.


One thing we did do was go to a show.  There is a theatre around the corner from the hotel which had a pair of massive inflatable legs sticking out the top and THE HOLE across the front.  How could we resist?

Our only worry was that the show was entirely in Spanish, except for some English songs.  Should we?  Shouldn’t we?  Our Spanish consisted of ‘please’, ‘thank you’ and ‘you’re welcome’, so of course we should.


Well.  The Hole is a little difficult to classify, I think.  I’d put it at a cross between Rocky Horror and Burlesque.  There was a lot of speaking in the show, mainly from the ‘hostess’ who spent most of her time in a black basque and stockings.  As much as my wife and I couldn’t understand a word of what she was saying, the rest of the audience were in fits of laughter, with many wiping tears from their eyes.  Other than that, the show was pretty spectacular, and we still found much to laugh at.  The four gents in suits were brilliant, being butler type characters who sang Accapella in various comedic ways.  There was a host of acrobatics, spinning high in the air and fast roller-skating action (from a man who really didn’t like keeping his clothes on).  Yes, The Hole has an amount of semi nudity in it – apart from the man on skates, who had no real way to hide anything he had.  But, you don’t go into this with your eyes closed and you keep your tongue in your cheek.  It’s fun and a laugh and, if you actually understand it, hilarious.

It received a standing ovation.  Can’t argue with that!


Apparently, they may possibly be coming to the UK.  If they are, sign me up!


After a delay at the airport due to a mix-up with paperwork, and Terminal 2 of Barcelona Airport actually running out of paper to print on (!), we were on our way home with smiles on our faces.  Great place, great hotel and great people.  By midnight we were home (it’s almost a two hour drive).


By the end of the next day, we were ready for another holiday, of course, but that’s another story!


So.  Barcelona.  Would I recommend it? Yes!  Would I recommend the Praktik Rambla Hotel?  Oh yes!


What’s next on the list?  In the last three years we’ve done Luxor (wow) and Budapest.  Majorca was earlier in the year and now Barcelona.  Possibly we’ll visit Amsterdam.  Definitely, at some point over the years, PragueCroatiaMoscowNew York and Rio for their carnival.  Oh, we got a great deal on Disneyland Paris for half term holiday next year.  I don’t know who’s looking forward to that more, us or our children.

Anywho.  Suggestions anyone?  Where would you like to go?