They say never meet your heroes as you will be disappointed, well last night we were both lucky enough to meet an exception to that rule.
Armistead Maupin has written Tales Of The City for about 40 years. First serialised in a San Franciscan paper then collected into a first novel, 'Tales' has had 9 volumes and this newest one, Days Of Anna Madrigal, is feted to be the last in the series.
These books are so important to so many people across the world as, especially in the late 70s / early 80s they were the first time that gay people were shown to be equal, not better or worse but equal.
Last night's reading & interview had a Q&A session. Questions were asked and answered with the authors trademark wit and candor but everyone there just wanted to thank him for writing the books in the first place.
So, two years ago today we had a massive party and 'got married'. Only we didn't, get married I mean. Due to paperwork not turning up etc the fabulous time we had in Spain with so many of our friends and family wasn't actually 'official'. So today we went to Hammersmith & Fulham and registered our Civil Partnership.
Don't worry we're planning on doing an 'actual' wedding next year once the recently voted law change is acted on ;-)
Here's a pic our witnesses Rachel & Simon insisted we needed and the shout out we got on Graham Norton's BBC Radio 2 show on Saturday.
We're getting very good at doing 'free' London and really enjoying being tourists in our own home town.
This has been the first year we were able to take advantage of Open House, an annual event where many different types of buildings, not normally open to the public, get invaded by hoardes of nosey people, like us.
After a couple of false starts Saturday morning, we completely underestimated queue times & sizes, we stuck with our 3rd choice, Lloyds of London. We also got to see the Vintner's Hall, Guidhall, Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Canada House and the Supreme Court.
Very exciting after a VERY quiet, and unusually long, winter a decision has been made. After 5 years in Spain and more than 10 years after we left London we are heading back 'home'.
5 years is a long time and tho the winters can drag a little we have had tremendous fun in Sitges but we both thought it was time to give the UK another bash. We're both looking forward to spending more time with our London / UK friends and being a lot closer to our families.
Still got Sitges Gay Pride to look forward to next week though ;-)
I (Seán) can't grow a proper moustache to save my life but my hirsute husband is at it again, in aid of charity you understand. Please support him in his efforts, to raise vital funds and awareness for men’s health, specifically prostate cancer and testicular cancer, by following the link and donating what you can.
So Mum, Dad & Ian arrived this time last Monday and they've already taken off to get back home! Still we managed a trip up Montserrat, Dinner at Maureen's, BBQ at Diane & Gino's and some nice dinner's at home. While they got in quite a few days at the beach too.
Another Gay Pride weekend, thanks to our fabulous host, Sotiri, who really does know how to organise a great party. Special guest was Sitges' own Lady Diamond who brought along a few friends. Everyone had a great time, friends old and new all got on and ejoyed the spectacular views of the Mediteranean, Sitges and the Garraf hills beyond. We even had a drink or two!
Last weekend Graeme decided we should get out and do a bit more exploring, as it has been a while since we've seen somewhere new. That and he had hotel points 'burning a hole in his pocket', so off we went.
A few hours north-west of us, towards Spain's northern Atlantic coast, is the Basque country. Pais Vasco. On the way up we stopped off at the ruins of Belchite, destroyed in the Civil War and left as is/was. We based ourselves on the outskirts of Vitoria and explored from there. The City, Bilbao, including it's Guggenheim and then on our way back we stopped off at the Marques de Riscal winery.
Belchite was shocking but I'm glad we went. Vitoria, Bilbao and the rest of the Basque country we saw was beautiful, charming and far more remiscent, we thought, of northern Europe than anything else we've seen in Spain. The Guggenheim was stunning, but thank God for David Hockney. Other than that I must say that most of the pieces were very modern but not what I, personally, would call art. The Hockney exhibits were a surprise to me. I had no idea he was quite so prolific and his use of an iPad as sketch book was quite inspiring . . . watch this space!
We had a fab time and as usual took loads of pics.
Three galleries are linked below, click on the underlined links to see the pics;
'Flaming' June it was not. We arrived Wednesday after the Jubilee and it was still raining! Not that we changed our plans, family sightseeing in Margate, checking in on a family friend's son who has his own gallery, mooching round London, Lunches, Dinners and 'days out' all went ahead.
Margate is where Graeme's mum Mo's family come from and he hadn't been in years so we went and had lunch in an old family favourite and looked at old family homes. On the way we called in at Alexander's Gallery . Matt is the son of an old family friend. Many of his Father's pieces are owned by various family members and so now the next generation of both families are re-connected. Matt's work is stunning and if you are in the area or able to see one of his shows in London it's not to be missed.
The reason for the visit to UK was Graeme's cousin Mel's 50th birthday. We stayed with them for a few days and it was nice to get the chance to catch up with the family properly for the first time in a few years. We relocated to central London in time for the big celebration dinner at Rules , apparently established in 1798 it billed as London's oldest restaurant. It certainly looks the part. Very classic, VERY classy and beautifully traditional. Food and wine were superb and the service was flawless. If you are in London and fancy pushing the boat out book in advance as it is, understandably, very popular.
While in London we got to visit Nathan & Aimery, had a few drinks and dinner with them, Michael & Andrew and Ed which was great fun. Lunch with Barb on Saturday saw the Sun shine and so we had a great 'tourist' walk round Westminster / South Bank. We were fortified beforehand by a fabulous lunch at Imperial China in Chinatown. The Dim Sum was yummy. Yes, by the way, all we did was eat and drink on this trip!
Sunday was Sam, Imo & Oz and James & Yvonne. Mooching round Marylebone High Street saw much gossip and giggles and more dim sum this time at Ping Pong , which was nice but not quite as good as Imperial China. Also another birthday, this time Yvonne's 6th!
Sunday evening we were off to Fulham and Rachel & Simon's. Lovely relaxing evening, more yummy food and Graeme even attempted to make up for the lack of 12+ years of Godfatherly advice by helping Matthew with his Spanish homework!
Monday and Mo came to London and so Graeme got to feed his inner transport geek investigating the new Kings Cross and St Pancras, and the latter's new Hotel. Very nice. Then we took the HS link to Stratford and soaked up some retail therapy and were treated to lunch.
I had to go pick up my new passport, very swish, while Graeme and Mo took the scenic route back on DLR. Dinner with Ed, Nathan & Aimery this time was an Indian, very good too.
Our last day in London, Tuesday, was allocated as a day to ourselves and we took the opportunity to head to Shad Thames / Hays Wharf via London Bridge. Seeing as how, 10 years ago, give or take a week, that's where we met!
Tusday night, off to Southend & Leigh on Sea to catch up with Maggie, James & Laura from Beirut. As usual Maggie produced a delicious feast and a few drinks later we were able to roll into a taxi back to the hotel so we could raise ourselves for the early flight the next morning.