Today is a day off: a luxurious, welcome, uncluttered day off, and never have I needed one more. Today is my chance to let my worn body recover a little, whilst resting my voice as much as possible. Last night, as we said our good byes, the hotel’s manager, Brian O’Day had said ‘use the hotel – the hotel is yours, use whatever facilities you want, oh, maybe not the jeweller’s shop!’ So, I may take him at his word.
Initially my task is to make sure that I have some cleaned costume shirts for my events tomorrow, so I bag three up (one for each show and one for the signing sessions), and take them down to the lobby good and early, to ensure that they are returned today.
Then I go to the magnificent Circular Dining room, where in days of yore I used to perform my dinner show, and wait to be seated. The entrance is guarded by two life-size nutcrackers, both of whom wear staff badges: one is called Brittany and the other Rosa – I think they need work at their interpersonal skills as they seem to be, well I have to say, a bit wooden.
I am shown to a table by the window looking out over the hotel gardens, which are shrouded in fog, and am immediately fussed over by my server who brings me orange juice and coffee. The breakfast buffet here is magnificent and I spend a lot of time perusing the many delights on offer, before settling down to eat.
Last night Teresa had said that if we met at breakfast then she would love to see my green waistcoat that gave me so much trouble earlier in the tour, and which has gained a notoriety all of its own. I have the waistcoat with me, but there is no sign of David and Teresa at this rather early hour.
I finish eating, and go back to my room, where I lay back on my bed, suitable dosed up with cold medication. After an hour or so, during which time I finish the blog, and watch TV, I get a call from Teresa: they are just going down to breakfast, and would I like to join them? I collect the waistcoat again, and return to the dining room where Brittany and Rosa inscrutably welcome me once more.
Teresa and David are suitably impressed by the luxurious, green oriental pattern of the waistcoat, as they tuck into plates of omelette, fruit and potatoes. I confine myself to another vitamin C shot, with a large glass of orange juice.
After we have chatted for a while, and said our goodbyes once more, I go back to my room to collect my swimming shorts. I am going to head to the spa and have a good long session in the sauna, before having a lovely swim. It is indeed a lovely hour or so, hopping from sauna to pool, to Jacuzzi, to sauna and to shower. I don’t know if it does me any good, but it FEELS as if it does, and that is the most important thing,
Feeling suitably refreshed, I head to my room, via the little café where I will pick up a salad for lunch. Who should I find there reading the papers and sipping coffee? David and Teresa who are having too much fun to leave! We chat a little more: they are planning to come to the UK in February, and it would be wonderful to get David a gig, so that I can actually watch his show. I mention the village of Pluckley, which styles itself the most haunted village in England: that would be a good place to perform Poe! Let’s hope it happens.
We all say goodbye once more and I go to my room, where I settle back to watch Mr Magoo’s A Christmas Carol, as given to me yesterday by young Derek.
It is an interesting version, and at the outset incredibly faithful to Dickens’ text, until suddenly it takes a sudden departure. For some unknown reason the Ghost of Christmas Present is the first to visit, taking Scrooge to the Cratchit’s Christmas lunch, before returning him to his bed, where he wakes once more to be greeted by the Ghost of Christmas Past! I don’t quite understand it, but the message of the story is never lost. There is an interesting moment at the end too, as the Cratchits feast on their massive turkey there is a scene of almost horrific gluttony as the children gorge themselves on Razzleberry Dressing, which is smeared all around their faces.
What a fun way to pass an hour or so.
I have decided to take myself away from the hotel this afternoon and visit a nearby cinema, where the new Harry Potter spin off, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is playing. This being Hershey the cinema is called Cocoaplex, and I buy my ticket (only $7, which seems remarkable cheap compared to UK prices), before entering the theatre itself, which is completely empty. For a while I think that I am going to have a private screening, but with a few minutes to go a family arrives loaded up with popcorn and drink.
The movie is fun – not as strong as a Harry Potter film of course, but an amazing testament to the art of CGI movie making. Eddie Redmayne is likeable, although appears to perform at 45 degrees for most of the time. There are scenes which are reminiscent of the famous bar sequence in Star Wars, where the screen is filled with as many different creatures as possible: there is a lovely kleptomaniac mole/platypus hybrid which steals many a scene, and a leather suitcase that contains not only the deserts of Arizona, but frozen tundra and wild African savannah too. Fortunately the case has a ‘muggle’ setting so that Mr Scamander can clear customs.
All fun, and instantly forgettable!
It is dark when I emerge, and the drive back to the hotel takes me back through some beautifully decorated neighbourhoods, where coloured lights twinkle and move in the gentle wind. Once again I think how well America does Christmas lights, so much better than we do in the UK.
Back at the hotel I book a table for dinner at the Harvest restaurant, and walk through the gardens, suitably wrapped up against the evening chill, to dine at 7.30. I treat myself to a wonderful steak, reared on a farm just 2 miles away. It is cooked to perfection.
I am back in my room early, and lay on the bed watching (half-watching) The Martian with Matt Damon. I drift in and out of sleep, before giving in to the inevitable.
This has been my last day off on the tour, and from now on I have a hectic schedule until I (we, for Liz will be with me by then), leave on December 17. I have taken it easy today, and hope that I have enough in reserve to see me through the next couple of weeks.