Can't blame my exhaustion on jet-lag, but can blame it on crazy schedule and deaths.
I'e been trying to rock myself to sleep by intoning the San Franciscan itinerary, but I get lost with all the drive-bys and hotel changes.
Whilst you lot were letting off rockets and eating hot potatoes round your bonfires I was winging my way to The West Coast of California, alongside Robert Redford.
He had his seat, I had mine Ollie Smith lounged in the first seat, first class of course, we all read our papers and watched our films, reclined our chairs into first-class beds, then after hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours in the sky we finally touched down in San Fran airport.
Tyson, the baseball cap wearing Oregonian, collected us. Loaded up our cases and off we went on a four hour drive to our first location.
The first bed was in a hotel worthy of Nicholas Cage.
Huge room, orange decor, cold, cold, cold. Coffee in plunge jugs and food in coin operated machines.
My chest-cold had transmuted into Bronchitis and then a cough that made me sound like Dot Cotton.
77 degrees in the shade and Holly S, from one vineyard, gave me YINCHIAO herbs and I started to function again and off we went with our camera crew filming; wine growers, their vineyards, ranchers, their cattle, cowboys and olive groves.
But not necessarily in that order.
Our second port of call was in the most delightful UPPER LAKE, where we filmed more olive groves and wineries. I ate an olive right off the tree, the inside of my mouth turned into the play area of a hamsters sandy cave. I needed freshly peeled mandarins pulled off their branches to rehydrate my paper mouth.
Slurping fresh olive oil from the barrel was an experience, after one slurp my lips had stuck to my gums. I looked like Nosferatu.
THE TALLMAN HOTEL was so delicious I can hardly bare to relate that I only got 6 hours in it. It had the air of Tennessee Williams about it, chintz furnishings, a shower with nozzles, pipes and wheels, the softest bed, and a balcony, not to mention Ollie opposite in the blue version of my pink room.
We left for more Mini driving, with the roof down and the seat heater on. I drove hundreds of miles with the hottest buttocks in the West.
Onwards and downwards towards HEALDSBURG, with its historic square, fancy restaurants and shoe shops. I bought boots and a t-shirt, all in the sale, and continued to walk up streets, down avenues, round squares and along sidewalks, the camera man forever filming. In the evening I looked like an Italian streetwalker, by day the same shots revealed my increasing waistline and robin-red-breast belly. By the time we wrapped I looked like a pregnant Humpty Dumpty.....
We decamped to MADRONA MANOR which was located out of town. I swear it was owned by the Adams Family. Five star restaurant but our rooms were
Sans room service
Sans mini bar.
I was thrust back into a B horror movie, with paranormal activity going on in Ollie's room.
Three nights and we were off to San Francisco.
The HOTEL ZETTA was so modern I couldn't find anything. It was all hidden behind black cupboard doors against white walls. I eventually found the minibar, but it was broken so cold water was warm and warm water was luke.
I ordered room service as I watched bad American telly. Meatballs and chips arrived on a tray. So much salt I ended up scraping each 'French fry' between my fingers, and so much saturated fat that I had to cover up the meatballs with my napkin and think of England.
Met Ollie in the foyer the following morning, we were both drinking from the iced complimentary water in the foyer. The salt had parched us.
Ollie is still young enough to do a runner every morning, fifteen minutes, at least, taking in the air.
My cough, cold and increasing age, meant I stayed in bed until the last minute, blowing my nose on the free tissues and applying make-up to my streptococcalled eye balls.
Up hills, down dales, restaurants for nose to tail pork sweetbreads, wineries with old vines and young owners, more drive-bys in the open topped Miniscule car, and then onto the Golden Gate bridge, where we shot footage of me holding onto Ollie as the wind blew and we perched on top of a flinty wall.
CAVALLO POINT LODGE, with its Latino workers, individual American flags, and golf trolleys. The very place where I swear Mrs.Stepford became a wife. The young greeters and receptionists had smiles so fixed one false move and their chins would have fallen off leaving their jaws in the autumnal fruit bowls scattered around reception.
Into the MISSION DISTRICT for Eastern European/Nordic/Japanese food made my a Hungarian God and his tiny Jewish partner. We ate Chinese broccolli with burdock root, shaved air-dried beef and daikon radish grated finely.
Our last meal, 10 of us, as Chris the second camera man had come down with the bug, was in the very restaurant. By the time we got to the fifth course I couln't pack another thing in my mouth. I rolled into my CAVALLO POINTED bed without turning on the gas fired original log fire from the original log fired wall switch.
And then it was all over. Ollie left at 4.00a.m. whilst I did the final days shoot. In the THE STATE BIRD PROVISIONS kitchen. The best caff to date. We made potato starch and chile flour dredged quails, deep fried in 330 degrees oil, set on a bed of white buttery onions with a squirt of lemon. Those little birds were devoured as soon as they flew out of the pan.
I then had to drive up and down, behind the trams, on those steep hills of San Fran, whilst the director shouted at me through the walkie talkie, held in the hand of Tim who was squashed between my seat and the back ledge. Up and down and up and down, then down and up and down and up until I refused to drive any more.
I fell out of the mini, and we all hugged- minus Ollie - in the middle of the San Franciscan tramlines.
And before you could say 'life is but a dream' I was at the airport. In the first class lounge, drinking iced water and watching Fox news. YUK.
I boarded the 7.45, tried to sleep on my recliner, and finally walked into my home at 3.30 last Wednesday.
Spent Thursday doing washing, repacking, dentist, doctors, train station for my three tickets to get me to Totnes and Bath. A bit of sleep then a six o'clock start.
Left on Friday for a train ride to Devon and a memorial service for a boy who should not have died. After which I took the train to Bath spa, where I was met by a little man quite simply known as Gods Gift who refused to kiss me because I had my trade Mac lippy on.
Ate a scone and honey and a blueberry and ginger smoothy next to the theater, I sat and watched him do his thing. We left Bath late and arrived home by 2.39, the dawter was there to greet us. The three of us sat up until 4.00 a.m. exchanging prsents and stories.
The sun woke me at 11.30. The Salt Cave for an hours breathing to clear the chest. An Indian Curry to open the tubes, and then two-o-clock shut eye
She went, he went and I sit in the attic, my eye lids drooping, my red socks gripping and my full mind emptying. Tomorrow I do nothing and then Wednesday I'm back on it.
The 'oosbond told me this was the last time he intended doing what he's doing and that we were going to get a dog.
Woof Woof to that.
Jeni Barnett tells of her scrumptious time at Good Food Live in her first audiobook! Download NOW from iTunes
Yay!! Welcome back to the land of the blog!! And of course welcome home for last week. San Fran is a strange but beautiful place - let's swap stories some time. What a tease you are about Robert Redford: some strange British courtesy extended there? When are these programmes scheduled to be shown? Can't wait to see them. love L xxxxss
Woof woof !!! Welcome home Auntie Jeni we missed you. Lickety luck from B xxhugxx
Hope you do get your dog. Just go for it. Enjoy life. Do what you whanna!