Monday, 30 January 2012

Antwerp Gay Guide

Why a trip to Antwerp is worth it - the welcoming people, the yummy chocolate, the diverse gay scene within a relaxing and laid-back city in Belgium. find out where to go and what to do as a gay or lesbian visitor

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Fort Lauderdale: Wilton Manors – the gayborhood, Florida

My first trip to the gayborhood in Fort Lauderdale really made me feel as though I was in the USA. George’s Alibi was buzzing with the sounds of country a room of cabaret, men in stetzens and huge beefy bears serving casks of beer.

There’s quite a difference to British gay villages; America seems to like to butch it up a bit. A bar in most cities I’ve been to would be amiss without a grumpy drunk propping up a bar, a camp cheerleader behind the bar, a music selection full of rock and country and some form of macho sport presentation or a pool table. Good luck finding all that in the UK.

George’s Alibi is a popular meeting haunt all week and where Wilton Manors all began when a gay resident bought the complex and began rejuvenating it – this whole area in fact was once run down. Adopted by gays and becomes a sought-after area.

It’s worth stopping by Rosie’s Bar & Grill, Gelati Martini Lounge, New Moon Bar, and the Manor Complex.

Bill’s Sport Bar is a must-stop – I was totally in awe of such a concept – a gay sports bar. It’s full of men in shorts and vests; fit guys behind the bar mixing cocktails; it’s draped in paraphernalia of American Football, Baseball, and Basketball. There was an excellent atmosphere here; very lively and a great hangout.

The Manor is the after-part. Head to this multi-club post-midnight (at least) and get on the dance floor. The weekend is a Friday – Sunday affair, with the odd Thursday thrown in; several rooms to relax, get on the dance floor, play or drink to local and international DJs. It’s a rather fancy place – and worth it’s weight in Wilton Manors: 2345 Wilton Drive, Wilton Manors.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Fort Lauderdale: taking to the water – Canoeing

Fort Lauderdale offers you the chance to enjoy long mornings rolling around in bed after a heavy night at the local gaborhood, soak up the sun in long afternoons and make the most of the sun-drenched beaches. One afternoon we made our way to John U Lloyd Beach State Park with slim areas of jutting coastline offering calm beaches, open skies and great activities.

We headed for Blue Moon Outdoor Center for a two hour canoe trip – before considering jumping in a canoe beware that this requires you to paddle – if you are not physically fit, if you complain over moving your own body then just don’t bother! However, for us that enjoy activity breaks it adds that fun to Fort Lauderdale.

Blue Moon has a cafĂ© and restaurant where you can enjoy a fun lunch with a few local beers before heading off around the park. It was an enjoyable afternoon and we whiled our time messing about on the small canals – certainly showed us how chilled out Fort Lauderdale life is.

John U Lloyd Beach State Park,
Blue Moon Outdoor Centre,

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

London's Gatwick Airport staff get trained

Arriving at London's Gatwick Airport today I nearly collapsed at sheer shock for the developments it has made with security. Here I was stood in a large hall with electronic gates and lines of security check points - the UK had hit the 21st Century!

Following years of pure hatred for this airport's baggage check it finally seemed to have recognised flyers' dissatisfaction and brought in someone with an ounce of intelligence to reform it. Plus this was my special day - new staff were being trained at each touch point.

New security employees bumbled around the luggage conveyor belt double-triple checking they were doing their job right under the beady-eyes of their experienced seniors. Body check officers joked off their apprehension while the x-ray observers nodded in agreement as bags were checked at snails pace.

While the check point took three times as long as London City Airport - these bright lights, fresh layout and new staff gave me a sense of ease with the impending Olympics 2012. Just maybe Britain can give citizens and residents a good send off.

My only concern is that the airport has adopted the same respect for queues as our European
counterparts (no clear line structure in place) - expect a pure rush for the first available boarding card swipe desk and rampage to the quietest luggage check line. We will see.

I just hope when I land back here I will experience a welcome that is as fresh and professional. Though airport staff can still do with developing friendly personalities.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Fort Lauderdale: Pay Lips Service

WARNING – It’s a drag bar people. It has men with penis miming to really camp songs while wearing incredibly tight fitting or revealing women’s clothing while trying to emanate a famous signing diva. Glamorous.

Exactly what this place is; rock up to the joint and your suddenly surrounded by grand chandeliers, ruby red back drop curtains and a deep burlesque shine. Glamorous ladies waltz the room taking orders; ribbing the diners and poking fun at their comments. Cocktails whirled around the room relaxing the crowd in preparation for the evenings programme.

Music gently filled the room, the sounds of Motown filled my ears and head started to sing, the straw remained in my mouth as I sucked up my influencing cocktail. My lips began to move, my feet started to twitch and before I knew it – I was up and I was Ms Diana Ross. She filled the room all eyes darting in her direction her arms began to flail and cheers rose from the crowd 3 minutes later Diana was gone – but footage survived!

The performance would be as you would expect from a restaurant cabaret theatre with drag queens lip-synching to divas – incredible. The outfits, the looks, the songs, the show; a laugh out loud sing-a-long gay fest! Get down there!

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Fort Lauderdale: Shopping

There’s no doubt about it – the American’s know how to shop. They’ve exported their shopping malls across the world along with their brands and culture of hanging around stores all day buying and eating. Well here in Fort Lauderdale it’s on an even bigger scale – you’ll find superb boutique stores in the streets of downtown Fort Lauderdale, especially East Las Olas Boulevard, and the largest shopping outlet in the whole of the USA – Sawgrass Mills.

Sawgrass Mills covers nearly 2 miles of shopping space together with over 350 stores – this beast is still growing with expectations in late 2012 a further section will be added to this 20 year old in-door high street. You can get all the top brand names like Gap, Esprit, Calvin Klein to the designer labels of Hugo Boss, Prada and Versace.

Take all this with excellent American prices plus heavy discounts of 40% (regularly advertised) or so and you’ll be making unbelievable savings on European pricing. Just make sure you give yourself plenty of time, Sawgrass Mills needs a minimum of 2.5 hours.

Sawgrass Mills: 12801 West Sunrise Boulevard, Sunrise, Florida,33323

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

My New Years Bucket List Doesn't Exist

I have suddenly seen people talking about New Year bucket lists all over Facebook and Twitter, this sort of miffed me until I talked to someone about my "30 things I will do before I am 30" list, just to discover that is a Bucket List. So basically these Facebook conversations are all over non-existant New Year Resolutions.

I stopped making resolutions several years ago when I realised that by the end of January I had forgotten what they were. Instead, twice a year I review and rewrite A List of Things To Achieve, or seemingly the Bucket List.

I love lists, every day I write lists, maybe even several. But this New Year I stick to my 29 - 30 list, but I think some of it maybe difficult. Here is some of it again with a 2 month update:

 Don’t die: If I am to achieve all 30 things, I must save two for my actual 30th birthday.
***STILL very much alive, thank god
Create a new pie: putting my culinary skills to the test
***I THINK I know what I will do, it's a mix of sweet and savory.
Learn french
***STILL going well
Jump from a plane – sky dive
***I WILL book my ticket in February for March or April!
Get on Daybreak – I do love ITV in the morning
***TRYING to come up with a good reason and applying for all competitions
Write a children’s book
***This has gone nowhere
Build my own shelves
***I BOUGHT the wood

Check out the rest here

Fort Lauderdale: Billie Swamp Safari

Get to Florida and it’s not just the phenomenally long clear golden beaches, but there’s an abundant of wildlife that needs to be experienced. Take a tour or hire a car and drive out to the Everglades, this 1.5 hour journey takes you into the depths of the swamps where Fauna and Flora thrive.

Billiie Swamp Safari is an Everglades adventure that takes you into the wild on large water buggies taking you into the forest and grasslands to see the array of animals living in the southern state of the USA.

Florida was originally owned by Spain and sold to the United States for $5million – now worth substantially more than that – the Spanish brought new wildlife to the state including horses and pigs. Billie Swamp Safari covers over 2,000 acres of land preserving the local habitat and the animals within it.

During a 1 hour driving tour you will see Alligators, Turtles, Water Buffalo, Horses, Bulls, Cows, Pigs and more while also exploring the diversity of the vegetation, from stranglers and climbers, moss and poison ivy, medicinal herbs and plants as well as fruit and berry trees. This area, during the summer hurricane season June – September, is often flooded 2 – 3 feet of water with signs in the markings at the foot of every tree. This is when the crocodiles, turtles and alligators take over the swamp.
If you get chance take the Airboat Trail that takes you along the deeper rivers and swamp areas to get to the nesting parts of the water creatures.

Billie Swamp Safari: 800-Go-Safari, call for prices and reservations.