Monday, February 25, 2008

In Nomine Amoris

That's right folks, In the Name of Love (or 'luurve' when said after a show, and two drinks)
It's the name of the first production I've been in since leaving dat ole Cruisin' bidness.

The gig was in Portugal's Algarve, Lagoa to be precise, and at 75o euros for just one show (plus five days rehearsal) it was also twice the pay I'd have earned from a week at sea. I wish jobs came along like this more often....Here's the programme.

And look, me! I have no idea if my Biog is correct, it's all Portugese to me...

The three other dancers in the cast were the nicest people you could ever hope to meet, and way too talented to be kicking around with the likes of me.
Here are the two guys, after a particularly tough day of rehearsing, and about to go for a beer at a pasteleria across the street.

Taxis, flights, hotel accommodation in my own room

(just when I thought I'd eradicated it from my vocabulary, the Hotel Cristal!)
breakfast AND dinner all paid for -a local restaurant 'sponsored' us for the latter- plus music composed by an emotional Serbian named Zoran who actually cried during rehearsals, the show, seeing us interact at dinner (no joke, the guy loved us) added up to a pretty damn-near perfect job, even with pointe shoes on.
Here are mine, all pancaked up to look like extensions of my feet, which they most definitely are not.
I always have to ask myself how something so biologically wrong can look so pleasing onstage?

In a nutshell, it was an original work, and original choreography. (Read: nobody ever did it before, so I could call a few shots)
The dressing rooms were the nicest and newest I've ever been in. Check it out: FREE WATER!
Humble dancers never usually get such things.
And this shower is unbelieveable of a theatre its' size (350 pax).

The piano/violin/flute trio who accompanied us without conductor (we were only in the second act, time for nice long warm-up at the Get-Go!) made the whole thing unpredictable- one piece was decidedly slow- but lyrical and lovely. Not to get all artistic, but I could actually feel them. No tracks to fill, no old rehashing of Broadway, just us.

This is my partner and I, about a minute after pretty-much nailing our first pas de deux, called Nostalgia (but you have to say "NostalGIA" not the English "NosTALgia")

I'll have to work out how to put video on this thing and put it up here when I get the DVD through (just don't tell anyone, OK?)

My mum flew out to see me the day before the performance, to see the show and also to revisit Carvoeiro, the village in which we were staying and also the place we've holidayed when I was little, in this very villa actually.
I always think it's funny how life sometimes throws you opportunities like these (and even calls them NostalGIA!). Here we are exploring the resort we stayed in about 20 years ago.

I jumped into this pool from here,
and cracked my chin open...
and we used to eat here in this restaurant where the steaks come on sizzling hot stones.

My sister I remember fell into this fountain, and they used to have a Portugese dance troupe in this area with the fish mosaic.

Look, it was all so new when we first came here!

There's a bar for sale in my beloved square. Hmm, what would I call my bar?

We found a Donkey Protection Charity shop. I never saw one before. Burro's Bazar would be an awesome name for a bar! ...Right?

Eric, not to be outdone, flew out on the day of the performance, in true Rock n Roll fashion having driven all night after a gig to get to Stansted (cue Roy Orbison). Easyjet is a wonderful thing people!

After the performance and party, my new friends went home early Sunday morning.

Eric, Mum and I stayed until Monday, giving us a free day to go and explore Silves, an historic town which dates back to the Iron Age and boasts this impressive castle and Knight's Templar connections, although apparently Saudi Arabia has been trying to reclaim it since as they had resided in it for many years later.

I remember gazing through these long narrow windows as a child, now look! There's a man through this one, and he's my one!

I want to know what all these notches are about...sharpening arrows before shooting them through the windows?

As you can see, the weather is, and had been for the whole week, not great.

From the top of one of the castle turrets,
you can see a wonderful mausoleum and collection of buildings housing coffins (I have no idea what you're supposed to call them!), like I saw in Buenos Aires where Eva Peron is buried. I wonder if it has been overrun with cats like it's Argentinian counterpart.

We slept half the day, Eric catching up on his lack of sleep the night before (Ah!),

me just catching up due to poor sleep after a week of intensive dancing (I never ached so much in my whole career) and mum chilling out.

And then we went out and ate. Oh yes, we ate. Mushrooms, huge shrimps, steak, and more garlic than you could shake at Lestadt himself.

Back to the UK then, and back to unemployment.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Why say 'Valentine's Day', when you can say 'Pasty Day'?

I'm on the Cooking Trip like a new-born Nigella Lawson! Today's (semi) triumph was Cornish Pasties. Not to say that my Valentine's Day wasn't lovely, Eric got me roses and made me pancakes in bed (he brought them to me, in bed, he didn't make them in bed...yeah) but I wanted to try my hand at something new today, and anyway Eric loves a good pasty.

I had to buy a rolling pin to complete the task (great purchase, for £3 it also doubles as a dangerous weapon in case of BF misbehaviour) and, because it's easier to take a picture, here's the recipe:

They're actually surprisingly easy, if you have cold hands. Warmth is the enemy of pastry! The great thing is, you don't cook any of the filling, you just chuck it on the pastry (which you chill for a good while, see the necessity of coolness here?) brush with egg so you can pinch it all together, then cook on 180 for an hour.

See, the origin of the pasty, apparently, was actually the lunch of coal miners, whose wives would cook them meat in a pastry parcel, with a strong crust which they could hold and then disregard, it was never eaten. In Tudor Britain, pies were made simply as an economical way to cook meat, the pastry itself wasn't considered food. The top of the pie was lopped off, the inside spooned out and all the pastry thrown away. OK, British History lesson over.

Eric made these decorations with the leftover pastry after all the circles (use a 20cm side plate) had been cut out.

There's an E for him,

A B for me

And then a skull...yes, a skull. (think he's trying to tell me something about my cooking, reader?)

If you're observant (and reader, I know you are), you'll notice that of the 'Makes 4' specified in the recipe, only 3 are present on the baking tray. That's because one was sacrificed to get the others freed. My only shortcoming in this recipe? I forgot to grease the baking tray, and the first pasty burst apart when I tried to shift it! But the crumbled morsels tasted so goooooood.....

Monday, February 11, 2008

'Exposing myself to guests', a cautionary first

Wanna hear a story? It's pretty good....It was back while I was on the cruise ship, and I like to think of it as the legacy I left behind. I'm peppering it with pictures of Yours Truly in shows and stuff, because I like to break up the text. But the pictures bear no illustrative purposes towards my story, they are eye-distractors only.
It all started when they cut our water off from 11pm 'til 6am for a week on our deck, deck 5 (just the crew quarters, obviously!) for maintenance work.
Our shows used to come down at 11.40pm, so there'd be no water for a shower after shows in our cabins. This, considering the high energy-level of the shows (read: sweatiness) is both unhealthy and just plain nasty to comprehend.
We were told we could go up to the spa, on Deck 12 and use the showers there, which were unaffected by the cut-off.
So, off I toddle and the system worked for 2 days with the entire cast and other entertainment staff using the spa showers post-show, about 12.45am.
On the 3rd day, I went up to shower and was told by a man cleaning the showers to
"Come back in half an hour, We have to deep-clean through here."
I was tired, but after a few pleas that fell on deaf, underpaid ears I relented and went instead to the showers on deck 11, by the pool, thinking nobody was around and I could take a quick shower there and head to bed rather than wait an extra half-hour.
The showers by the pool are open (ie. no door) but I did a surveilance camera check, decided there was no danger and stripped to shower.
Unfortunately, on this particular evening, a couple walked past and saw my bare British backside!
They just sort of, paused and then continued on their passagiata, so I resolved to go to bed and perhaps mention it to my friendly Line Captain in the morning just to avoid any possible confusion, or in case they complained.
The next morning after rehearsal, I relayed the events to my Line Captain, who instead of the shrug and
"Okay, no problem" I'd anticipated, she said
"Oh! THAT must have been what the Cruise Director meant this morning!"
This was the Cruise Director/Line Captain conversation that had confused her at the time earlier that morning:
CD: Good Morning. This is the Shower Police!
LC: (Nervous laughter) "Good Morning"
CD: Apparently your cast members were showering themselves all over the ship in the
early hours!

Thankfully, he left it at that to give me time to confess!

I said I'd go talk to the Cruise Director later, but as he'd already gone ashore for an hour or so I decided it was probably best to leave things for a while, and went ashore with Eric.

On my way back to the ship, I felt a tap on my shoulder. Guess who it was?
CD: I was just wondering...
Me: Oh hi! I wanted to come and apologis-
CD: Oh no need, I wanted to know when you were next planning on taking a shower? I've
actually had to start selling tickets it's gotten round so quick.
Luckily, he has a sense of humour and didn't fire me. I never did see those guests again though, the ones who'd obviously complained about me!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Pancake Day!

Ah, at the risk of seeming like some kind of domestic Delia, I'm loving cooking in the morning! Check it out, the first time I've been at home and able to flip flour-based foods from a pan in years!

Don't get me wrong, I'm not about to leave my feminist morals tied up in a pocket of my cooking apron, but this man holding out his plate for more is disarmingly cute.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Football, cake and the Royal Albert Hall

So the flat looks almost done, and my boyfriend looks quite content, both of which make me pretty blinkin happy.

So happy in fact, that when I went to the charity shop to buy a cookie jar "Because every flat must have one silly" (BF) I found one that looked like a huge muffin with free muffin-mix inside it and I BAKED. It's hard to believe, people, but I did. How domesticated are THESE? I mean, yeah, all you had to do is add milk, but I preset the oven myself....

One of the highlights of the week was a trip to the Royal Albert Hall to see Cirque du Soleil's Varekai. Here's my man, all suited and booted for the occasion.
The four of us had this box and this champagne buffet (more was served at the interval!) all to ourselves.
Right after I took this, I was reminded that NO photography was allowed. Ah well, they don't mind these ones, surely...

And then there's the Sunday football. Eric becomes quite a menace on the pitch as you can see.

And check out the infamous band of brothers, in their Davie 'V'.
I managed to watch for an hour, before losing all the feeling in my gloved hands and heading off to the pub for a bloody mary. Now that is what I call a Sunday institution!