Six days down, ten to go and the virus hit me like a truck from behind. My head hurt, my chest hurt, every part of my body ached, the cost of a US doctor was prohibitive so I had to think laterally.
I felt like a Spanish, Jewish Princess - I didn't know whether I was Carmen or Cohen.
The way forward was to stay as still as possible. Keeping my eyes shut. Since my eyes closed involuntarily I was nodding off, like Alice's dormouse, between questions. I texted my Pranic healer in East Sussex, and my Theta Therapist in South Darenth. 'Help' I wrote. And it did. It really did. Instead of the top of my head blowing off when I coughed it was just my hairline that hurt.
Driving to Santa Monica - at least that's where I think we went - it was decided that I would go with the B roll. No soundman so I hooked the mic pack to the back of my pants, or should I say underpants. I think I'll say knickers then we all know what it's like to get them in a twist, which I did in the public lavatory at Grand Central Market. If I had a nickel for the number of times I've changed in a toilet I would be as rich as Mrs. Armitage Shanks.
Now you can look on Trip Advisor, or the comments page, but trust me all you need to know about GCM is EGG SLUT.
Yes, Egg Slut used to be a roadside caff, now its situated under the roof of The Grand Central Market. Lots of young staff, a big stainless steel counter flanked by high stools. Ask for an Egg Slut and you get a tumbler of mashed potatoes, which has just come out of a saucepan of boiling water. Laid atop of the magical mash is a just barely boiled egg. The perfect consistency so that when you poke a spoon into the potato the egg melts into the buttery spudulike. And trust me I liked the spud so much I had two. Did it make me feel better, you bet your sweet bibby it did. And it wasn't just me. Spudulike was liked by the endless stream of people who took the high stools the moment they were free.
The market is noisy, colourful and loaded with produce from all over America. I loved it. Some can't bare the noise, some can't bare the bustle, but even though my brain was spilling out of my head it made me feel good. Eddie let me sleep between shots.
We ate Sea Bass cooked in silver Kettles, a line of cylinder metal dishes that hang upside down Mark Peal, a lovely celeb chef, bought a line of silver kettles. In go fresh ingredients, in goes the fish, the kettles cook 'em for a few minutes, the kettle gets turned upside down, and there you are in the middle of Broadway eating fish that tastes like its just come off a Sanpan.
We drove, let me rephrase, I was driven, lolloping and sleeping, further down Broadway to SWEET FIN POKE. Owned by a 27 year old whizz kid and partnered by DAKOTA, an open faced, tattooed chef, with the smile of an angel. I felt rotten but the poke - pronounced pokay - lightened my load.
Take an Hawaiian speciality, cubes of raw, fresh, fish, ( Pokay is Hawaiian for cubes of raw fresh fish okay cokay ) in my case fresh pink salmon, put it in a bowl, slather over your dressing of choice, in my case citrus, then tumble over spring onions, edamame beans, pickled ginger, sesame seeds and love. And before you can say its a wrap the third bowl had gone down. Dakota is a delight, long may she and her partner reign. When we left they had just signed the contract for a second Sweet Fin by UCLA. I drunk their iced green tea and minted coconut water. Cool as Hell, aint that an oxymoron? Woteva....
I don't remember climbing into the SUV, but I do remember two hours later climbing out in Santa Barbara. The Four Seasons. Swanky Doodle, and incredible. With trees that shone in the moonlight and a cottage, No.24, pour moi. It was a walk with a porter but the most wonderful room with a bath room big enough for the Santa Barbara Dons football Team, and their cheerleaders. I couldn't sleep at all so I got a new adaptor from the concierge, charged my computer and repacked my suitcase. Then I remembered something else from my lunatic fringe.
Take a piece of paper write your remedy on it - I chose 'hepa sulph' for an unproductive cough - place a glass of water on it, and in the morning drink the infused water. Does it work? Who knows. If you think it does it does. If you believe it does it does. If you're that desperate anything will work.
By Tuesday 23rd of June I felt so much better.
You've seen pictures of Santa Barbara, well Olly drove the Mini and I sat in the front seat 'oohing' and aching at the real thing. Looking at palm trees, looking at the ocean, just reminding myself that this kind of view is free but not everybody can afford to see it.
The ocean, the runners, the wide wide roads, the weather, the joggers, the cyclists, the dog walkers, Santa Barbara is for the rich and famous and wannabe celebs, and for Jeni and Olly because they must have done something good in their past lives.....
We filmed from a roof top bar, the sun going down, Olly clinking my glass. I could have died and gone to heaven, as it turned out the absent healing had done the trick, Heaven it wasn't just a ridiculously lovely roof top in SB.
Before we drove off to Monterey we ate in THE LARK, trendy restaurant. Three different coloured beetroots, Hibiscus dressing, all eaten in the hot sun.
When my mother was at school she had a boy friend called Monty Ray.....that's where we were heading....with a newly packed case, a new outfit a body full of healing water, and the adaptor I forgot to give back!
Jeni Barnett tells of her scrumptious time at Good Food Live in her first audiobook! Download NOW from iTunes