Monday, December 28, 2009

Home Again

Soooooo a wonderful time was had in Berlin. It was the perfect anti-dote to the year and even tho I got about 40 minutes' sleep the night before my flight (7am!) I still feel well rested. Judging by the huge leap in visitors to my website you've enjoyed hearing about it all too! Either that or just avoiding family by farting about on the 'net!

I was at Tegel Airport very early yesterday morning, after the "firecracker" incident I assumed that all airport security would be stepped up, leading to delays for all. Not so! Oh well better safe than sorry. The pat down seemed a little bit more 'intimate' but that was it. I was in Heathrow by 8.30 and on the train to Paddington by 9am. Perfect.

My luggage came through fairly quickly, but the Baggage Reclaim hall at Terminal 1 was like a suitcase graveyard. Every bit of floorspace was taken up by cases! Not sure why, surely nobody's that excited that they forget to pick up their luggage????

Anyway it was all good and here I am 24 hours later, like I've never been away!

Thought you might like to see some random photos I took while I was away...


Saturday, December 26, 2009

Nearly Over...

Are you like me? When you travel abroad do you develop that ‘grass is greener’ mentality? Today I went out for a bit of fresh air and sightseeing, and as I got the U-Bahn to Checkpoint Charlie I was amazed at the kiosks on the train platforms selling beer, fags and porn, yet nobody on the trains were drinking, smoking or wanking - at least not openly!

No sign of Bono or The Edge!

I went through that whole thing of ‘oh everywhere else in the world treats their citizens like adults, unlike our own dear nanny state of the UK, there’s no need to prohibit people from taking drink on the tubes cos people here don’t abuse the trust, etc etc etc’

Then I got off the train at Kochstrasse and there on the platform was the reality. Some of the grossest looking youths I have ever seen, pissed, smoking, lamely attempting to terrorise the regular folks with half-hearted sneers.

The only thing that terrorised me was their appalling dress sense! There was drink spilled all over the benches where they were sitting, and smashed glass everywhere. It’s kinda reassuring to know that there are assholes everywhere, and at least ours aren’t as ridiculously horrific looking as the ones here in Berlin!

Even tho it is Boxing Day, everywhere is open, apart from the big chain stores. Museums, galleries, the zoo, not to mention all of the Christmas Markets which seem to be supplied from the same wholesalers as the ones in the UK. All the traditional German goods are on sale - traditional German carved Giraffes, traditional German Buddhas and the same tradtional German Chinese food as seen in Camden Market. God bless the universal language of tat!

One thing I have noticed is how crowded everywhere is. Of course there are families and lots of couples wandering about, as well as the ‘sad singletons’ like me. What struck me was that none of the couples or indeed the families looked any happier than me! I always imagine that everyone else is having the brilliant, warm. loving family Christmas that I’ve dreamed of my whole life, and that I’m the only one on my own. That’s not the reality at all! It seems even people with significant others can’t bear to be holed up with them for more than 24 hours!

My flight home is very early tomorrow morning, so my time here is coming to an end. In one respect its flown by, and in another way I kind of feel like I’ve been away forever. I feel rested, recharged and relieved that another “festive” period has passed without any major trauma!
When I get back I’ve got yoga and the sales to look forward to, not to mention a potentially wonderful NYE. Yay!


Friday, December 25, 2009

More Berlin Blogging

Its Christmas Day night and I have to say that coming to Berlin was one of my better ideas. I’ve spent the day sleeping, reading, swimming, exercising, eating and drinking. Its been perfect!

Berlin is such an historic city, and I have only scraped the surface of it landmark-wise. I went on a night-time tour and saw all the biggies, Brandenburg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie, the Reichstag, all pretty phenomenal seen from the bus window. I’m sure they’re even better seen close up. Oh well, I might make it out there again tomorrow, if not, I’ll just have to come back won’t I?

Me being me, of course, I have managed to visit just about every single major shopping area in the city! You’d be horrified and concerned if I hadn’t wouldn’t you? As in the UK, a lot of the shops started their sales early, and I purposely brought a small suitcase so that I wouldn’t be tempted to go overboard.

That didn’t mean that I was gonna deny myself a special Christmas present if I saw something that tickled my fancy. I mean, it’d be disrespectful to Berlin not to splurge a bit wouldn’t it? So it was that I found myself in a massive department store called KaDeWe - sort of a German Harrods without all the self-importance - and there in the Prada concession was my little bit of Deutsche handbag heaven.

A fabulous dark brown leather bag, big enough to hold any amount of crap I might ever conceivably need, that was quietly classy not screamingly bling. It had been nearly £2000 and now it was far less than half price, how could I resist? I did try actually, I walked around the entire shop - the largest department store on the Europe mainland, trying to put it out of my mind, but in the end the pull was too great. So there you have it, happy xmas JoJo!

Yesterday on Christmas Eve I was up and out and at ‘em early. The city was due to shut down at 2pm and I wanted to see and do as much as I could. First stop was Berlin Zoo. It’s practically next door to the hotel so would’ve been churlish not to take a look. I’ve never been to a zoo in the middle of a snowy winter before, it’s a pretty desolate experience believe me.

My big thang of course, is monkeys of all shapes and sizes, and to be honest that was the only part of the zoo I was interested in. The baboons were the only ones living outside. They had big old furry coats, and there were loads of em. The big male put on a bit of a show for me - maybe with my black fur coat and hat (fake!) they thought I was a big monkey too! He started barking and it echoed throughout the zoo. The bark brought out a whole tribe who were hiding in one of the caves, one by one they emerged, some of them with the most gorgeous little babies clinging to their bellies and sitting on their backs.

I made my way into the monkey house and was in hog (or should that be primate) heaven! There were chimps, gorillas, gibbons, orang-utans, and an assortment of tiny little pocket monkeys that I’m sure I could’ve brought home with me. It was feeding time and the gibbons could see from their cage the man chopping up the fruit and veg. Boy were they excited! He hand-fed some little spider monkeys and it was a joy watching them each take a piece of fruit, run off and hide it, then come back for another!

Just when I thought I couldn’t absorb any more cuteness, I found a cage with these little Max Wall looking monkeys (I’m not being deliberately ignorant, the names were all in German!). One of them caught my eye and started looking at me from every angle. He ran up his tree and checked out the top of my head, then as he climbed down he mirrored every move I made. If I tilted my head to the right so did he, I felt like my heart would burst with joy! Definitely missed my calling I reckon. Maybe I should re-invent myself as ‘The Monkey Whisperer’!

Anyway, that’s been the real highlight of this trip, I mean the handbag is gorgeous, but the monkeys stole my heart!


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Have Yourself a Merry Yada Yada Yada

Sooooo here I am! Christmas 2009 couldn’t be more different to last year.
Last week I was lucky enough to have an entire week of shows at The Glee Club in Birmingham. With recent events in the world of comedy these were the only proper Xmas shows I had, and believe me, they were the best!

I was working with Sean Collins, Adam Bloom and Andy Robinson and every single show - all nine of them in five days - was pure joy. The audiences were awesome, the staff, as always, were delightful, and the city itself was simply wonderful.

On Saturday we hooked up with the comedians who were appearing at Jongleurs and the tales of the shows couldn’t have been more different! It was a great, fun lunch tho.

Apart from the dip in earnings, I have to say that I haven’t missed the other shows at all! In previous years, by the time Christmas actually arrives I’m fed up of tinsel, turkey, and the entire human race! This year I’m feeling really festive!

I’m writing this in my luxury room at the InterContinental in Berlin. It’s my first time in the city and so far I love it. My usual Xmas date had made other plans so two weeks ago I got online and found this trip. Fab flights with Lufthansa from my favourite airport, Heathrow, and five nights in this 5* hotel!

I was actually born in Germany, in a place called Zwiebruken, but this is my first time back in the country since I was five. I vaguely recall traditional Christmases, with snow and choirs and real candles on the trees, and so far I’ve had the snow, the tradition and the choir, no blazing trees yet tho!

I guess most people think I’m odd, mad or brave going away alone at this time of year. I didn’t have to, there were places I could go, but sometimes the loneliest place is in a crowd ya know? This way I get to eat what I want - no turkey, yay! - when I want and where I want. The hotel has a Michelin starred restaurant so my Xmas dinner should be special.

Given the dire travel situation across Europe, I was extremely fortunate too, my flight was only delayed by about 40 minutes, and there are worse places than Heathrow to hang out.
The hotel has an excellent pool, sauna and gym, which I’ve already sampled, fabulous. I can sleep as much or as little as I want, go shopping, sightseeing, or take a stroll through the Tiergarten in the snow.

I went to an awesome Christmas market this evening and had a delicious meal of bratwurst followed by a pancake with cherries, cinnamon and almonds! Mmmmmmm! Might have to go back there! Needless to say I burned it all off at the gym when I got back.

I even had time for a little browse around Galleries Lafayette, which totally threw me. I ended up saying “merci” to the shop assistant instead of “danke”!

Tomorrow will be spent with a bit of art and a few landmarks I reckon, followed by an evening tour of the city complete with gallons of gluwein!


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Onwards and Upwards

So life is exciting at the moment.

I'm off to do my only official Christmas shows of the year at The Glee Club in Birmingham and soooo cannot wait to get on that stage!

Come and say hi!