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Dates Gone Bad: Camel Mike

As you may remember, I saw Marie Claire magazine tweeted about one of their bloggers, Lucy Robinson, and how she had been on hundreds of disastrous dates and ended up getting a two book deal from Penguin.  So, I set out to document a few my own.  It was quite hard to dwindle down but due to the feedback I’ve received, it looks like I chose well.

You can read week 1, Elbow Boy, here and you can read week 2, Posh Boy, here.  Now lets move on to week 3, Camel Mike.  Enjoy!

Some years ago, again with the friend who made me blog, I packed my backpack and headed off on a trek around Morocco.  It was when it wasn’t cool to go to Morocco and Marrakech hadn’t yet been discovered by hordes of Easy Jet tourists.

We thought we were brave and well-educated but in hindsight we were quite naive. That adds to the enjoyment of the trip in my opinion and I’m sure she would agree.

We got up to no end of debauchery on that trip: picked up on the train from Rabat to Fez by a guy who was our ‘friend’ (he ended up selling us to a madam in the seediest Hammam known to man where someone’s grandmother stripped us of our underwear and an old toothless woman repeatedly shouted “Tony Blair” at my friend, we were proposed marriage at least a million times, we were stalked by a man wearing a wooly blanket who took it upon himself to enter our hotel and find our room (scary!), my friend got married to the man who herded our camels across the Sahara and I snogged him under a camel blanket…which, I hasten to add she then repeated, to everyone, at my wedding!!

So you see, it wasn’t actually an arranged date, more an impromptu act of madness.  Nevertheless, I do feel compelled to set the scene of the hilarity.

A few years previous we visited a psychic woman who told me I would have a relationship with a man called Saíd. No way. There is no way on Gods earth that would happen. Foreign men just weren’t my thing (and now I’m married to one, go figure!).

With the psychic’s prediction well and truly forgotten, off we headed to camel trek the Sahara. It’s worth noting here that having spent a night or two on the edge of it, we were totally awestruck at how handsome (probably mysterious) the men were. We had found ourselves in a sand pit of Omar Sherif’s!

Mike, as he was known to Westerners, greeted us at our Auberge. Donning his white Saharan turban and his blue desert dress, he was a vision of wonder. He was the owner of the Auberge and proudly showed us around before introducing us to our camels.

We spent three days and three nights trekking up and down sand dunes, from one oasis to the next and even got caught in a rather frightening sand storm. Eventually we figured that we hadn’t ventured very far at all and had probably been going round in circles for the past 72 hours!

To end our camel trek on a high, once we got back to the Auberge, we sent a bunch of nomadic teenagers out on their bicycles to the nearest hotel to stock up on beers and vodka.

Considering the Saharan Tuareg are Muslim and supposed to be dry, they did a fair old job of necking the vodka! As did my friend and I. We were soon downing shots, passing around the shisha and causing an untold amount of hysteria in the village.

The Tuaregs were having so much fun that they didn’t want my buddy and I to leave. Camel Mike proposed to my friend and held a defend desert wedding under the stars. She However had her sights set on a cute American who had been part of our camel crew.

Very late into the night, Camel Mike took us on to the roof of the building to show us the stars. Pretty goddamn amazing to see how clear the sky is over the Sahara.

It’s also pretty goddamn amazing how I found myself under a camel blanket, one that we had been sitting on, that the camel had been sweating on, for the last three days, when the sun came up. I had no recollection of what happened in between!! Worse still.. Camel Mike and his Camel riding buddy were also under the camel blanket!! WTF?

As Camel Mike asked me “where’s my turban??”, the surrealism of it freaked me out and I scurried down to what should have been my actual sleeping place.

When I opened the door, I saw my friend that made me blog sprawled across a double bed looking like she had died and unwillingly come back to life.. “I’m so hung over, we are in the desert, with no water, I am seriously about to die!!”. “At least you didn’t sleep all night under a stinking camel blanket with a camel herder!” I retorted. “I know! I can’t believe you snogged Camel Mike!!” she said with every ounce if effort she had left in her body.

WHAAAAT?? I snogged the camel herder, under a stinking camel blanket! This readers, was an all time low.

So the moral to this story is this: never get trollied in the desert!

Oh, and by the way, although Camel Mike lived in the desert, he did have email. I know this because as we were leaving he handed me his business card (and Camel herders need business cards why?)…. Saíd.Camel@hotmail.com.

This obviously wasn’t his actual email address but note that his name was Saíd, not Mike. Our meeting was in fact written in the stars as seen by the psychic woman. I wish she would have told me to his profession, I’d have run a mile!

X-O-X

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2012 in London

 

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Dates Gone Bad: Elbow John

Recently Marie Claire tweeted about one of their bloggers, Lucy Robinson, and how she turned a series of horrendous dates into a two book deal with Penguin.  Isnt this everyone’s life? Dont we all have bad dates? I certainly have! And I think it suffices to say that I kissed a lot of frogs, A LOT OF FROGS, before I met my prince.

So I got to thinking that whatever Lucy can do, I can do just as good.  Over the next five weeks I am inviting you on a “Date Night” where I will relay a few tales of my worst ever dates. It has been hard to select only five but, lets see how it goes.  Names have been changed for obvious reasons, except for the last one as that actually is my husband!

Without further ado, let me introduce you to…..*cue drumroll*

ELBOW JOHN

Years ago when I shared a flat with the friend who made me blog, we decided that maybe our “type” wasn’t our type at all because we were still single. Not for the want of trying I might add.

We were both career girls, attractive (modest), funny, could hold our G&T’s well (did I say we? I mean her!) and could think of no reason why we weren’t getting dates! Naturally we came to the conclusion that either all men we met were gay (which isn’t entirely a lie as we both lived with one at some point..) or, we were obviously far too attractive to be approachable (I say this in jest.. I am not, repeat not, Samantha Bricks!).

Speed dating

We booked ourselves onto a speed dating night. In an attempt to increase our man supply. It was at a well-known club in central london which was dimly lit (at the time I thought it was sultry, now I know it was to disguise the goods!).

I’d never been speed dating before but it was exactly what it says on the tin: dash round 30 something blokes, two mins each, suss out who you might like and then have a cheeky snog at the end of the night, huddled in the corner while Lionel Richie belts out a slowie.  If you get an actual date, you’re lucky.

I did. I thought I chose well. I steered clear of my “type” and chose John from St Albans. I thought he was a Hugh grant / John Cleese lookalikie – I know, I should have called it a day there and then.

Date Night

We arranged to meet on the corner of Leicester square, by the iron fence, opposite Chiquitos. When I got to the corner, I held back a minute, as you do, to take a sneaky peak at the good. Nnnnooooooo… Beer goggles!! About turn.. Run, head down, sprint…quick!

Uh oh too late! He’d spotted me. I had to go through with it. I took a deep breath and thought oh we’ll, it’s a free drink then a trip to loo to call my mate, to call me, with an emergency!!

I said my hello’s praying to God that I wouldn’t bump into anyone I knew. We (he) found an outside table (God no, not outside!) at a pub off Leicester square.  Bless him. Whilst trying to be all masterful, he reached across the table for the wine list. WHAT THE…??? His long hairy fingers, on the end if his long hairy hand, on the end if his long hairy arm, opened the wine list with a gasp.  He mesmerised by prices. I was mesmerised by the hairiness.  Reddish blondish hairiness.  WHAT THE…?

And then I saw it.  As his hairy  arm reached across the table, I noticed the elbow. WHAT THE…?  You know those cheap shirts from cheap shops, the ones that come in a plastic packet with a plastic dog collar and the shirt is wrapped around a cardboard square with little plastic pegs to keep it in place?  you know the ones?

Elbow John was wearing one.  How did I know? You mean, other than the fact it was off-Lemon, not quite white, not quite yellow, not quite lemon – off-Lemon.  Other than once I took a proper look, it hadn’t been ironed so still had the creased and bends of once having been wrapped around a cardboard square.

How did I know he was wearing a cheap shirt? Because, I tell you, because, as his hairy arm reach over the little plastic peg that had been once holding the shirt in place, was still attached to the elbow of the shirt!!! I was mortified!! I, me, moi.. was on a date with a yeti wearing a £2 shirt.

To this day, I don’t know how I choked back the laughter.  Whilst he was, still, musing over the cheapest wine on the list, I made my lavatory excuse and called the friend who made me blog.  Five minutes later:  “Poisoned?! What do you mean the cat has been poisoned?? Ok, calm down, I’m on my way!”. We didn’t have a cat.

And as I sat on the train home, thanking my lucky stars I was single, I could only hope that the yeti and his plastic peg shirt had made it back to St Albans in one piece.

I’m sure you all have had similar experiences so do leave me a comment below with your funnies – I could do with a good belly laugh!

x-o-x

 
3 Comments

Posted by on April 18, 2012 in London

 

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Independents Day: Carrieles de Colombia

I don’t think I’m alone when I say that sometimes I daydream about starting my own business.  It’s the ‘what to do’ that holds me back.  I just don’t think I have an eye for niche spotting.  That doesn’t stop me being interested in others that do and most probably, I look to them for inspiration in the hope that one day my daydreaming will pay off and I’ll have a Eureka moment.

So when I discovered that Karen from All About the Boys was holding a new linky I had to get involved.  Independents Day is a once a month shout out to support hard-working independent businesses.  So rather than feeling like a small fish in a big pond, Independents Day is aiming to make a splash and help get these businesses the recognition we think they deserve.

I know a lovely lady who had a Eureka moment.  She’s smart, she’s gutsy, she’s determined.  She also happens to be one of my closest friends.

So without further ado, let me introduce Carrieles de Colombia, the brainchild of Becky, born and bred right here in Blighty, and her Colombian husband Mauricio. Having been to Colombia three times myself, it is with heartfelt joy that I write this post, not only to alert the world about these amazing bags but also about from where they come. Colombia is a total surprise and long gone are its woes of the past. Colombia stands for totally fabulous people, food, dancing and style. It’s on the up but it is such a shame that more people don’t venture there. Forget Milan, forget Rome, Colombia has a style that the world is yet to witness and that is why Becky and Mauricio have done a fantastic job of bringing a little bit of Colombia to the UK!!

Every woman likes handbags, right? Well, let me tell you, every woman will LOVE these!!  I remember clearly the day I saw Becky’s bag.  A few years ago, a bunch of friends met at Embankment to watch the Marathon and there, on Becky’s left hand, sparkling in the sun was a beautiful Colombian emerald and diamond ring.  Mauricio had proposed the night before.  Hanging off her hip was an unusually trendy, cool bag that I had not seen before, “Congrats on the bling but WHERE did you get that bag??!”…

And so it seems I wasn’t the first and I definitely wont be the last to ask.  It is because of this that in 2011, Carrieles de Colombia was born.

The bags find their inspiration from the Colombian Carriel.  Dating back to over 400 years the Carriel is believed to be a version of a European bag that the Spanish colonisers would have taken with them to Colombia.  Best of all (and I love this bit!), in keeping with Colombian folkloric tradition, all of the Carriel bags contain a secret pocket which is used to keep a love letter from a sweetheart.

Becky discovered the bags on a visit to Cartagena and loved them so much that Mauricio bought one for her directly from the producer. Since stepping off the plane back in the UK, she has continuously received comments about the bag. It was this that led the couple to contact the producer in Medellin to discuss importing the bags to the UK. As well as their range of handbags, Carrieles have also honed in on the need for a unnique and original iPhone cover – I for one will be getting myself one of these little darlings!

After a few design tweaks they received the first batch of samples. The producer of the Carriel had never provided such an order as all bags are handmade and extremely intricate in design, some consisting of colourful stitching, animal hide and all are made of the highest quality leather.

The latest fashion statement in Medellín, Cali and Bogota, Becky used her background in PR to drum up some awareness of the bags and the result has been amazing!

To date, Carrieles have had press coverage in magazines such as In Style, Grazia and Elle with more due in Marie Claire.  Lest not forget that no other than Fearne Cotton is the proud owner of a Dona Becky Carriel! This is an outstanding accomplishment given that both Becky and Mauricio still have full-time jobs. They are working hard to push the brand forward and are planning a few pop-up events across London later this year.

They remain undefeated against their challenges (dealing with Colombians who don’t know British markets, shipping, taxes, generating publicity and generally finding the time) and are absolutely committed and dedicated to the belief in their company.  I’m sure it wont be long until they literally, have it in the bag!!

For more information on Carrieles de Colombia you can visit them at:

Web: http://carriel.co.uk/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/CarrielesdeColombia

Twitter – @Carrielseuk

 
2 Comments

Posted by on March 29, 2012 in Reviews

 

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