Friday, 19 March. 2021: Postscript. This blog post began in early 2018 as nothing more than an itinerary for our England holiday in September 2018. It evolved into a journal of dates, places, events, the odd memory and photographs. I’d all but forgotten about it ever since, and left its visibility setting on private. I am making this blog post public for no other reason than it is a good place to begin a new series of posts on “A Life Less Ordinary.”
Thursday, 5 July 2018: Nine weeks until we arrive in England. We are in the Costa Brava, Spain and looking forward to the fun of summer here. A more recent memory comes to mind now. The wonderful moment when Daiana & I clear security at Barcelona El Prat airport. All stress and worry is left behind. We descend into Duty Free for some shopping madness. This is the moment I realise we are on our way and can relax after the stress of getting to the airport on time and clearing security. I can’t wait for that moment.
Monday, 16 July 2018: Seven weeks, three days until departure. A short memory. I miss taking the train to Folkestone.
I really love this ride. An hour just and so pretty traveling through the Kent countryside. Charring Cross Station is charming. And right in the centre of The City. Since 2003 I’ve travelled down from Charring Cross to Folkestone Central and always it gave me such a thrill to sit listening to 80’s music. Then it was on a first generation iPod. Later an iPhone. The last little cab ride from the station to the Leas along Castle Hill Avenue, around the final round-a-bout onto Clifton Gardens and then there we are at the door to the Clifton Hotel. Bags out, climb the steps to the terrace. I’m happy. I can enjoy a cheese and pickle sandwich with a plate of crisps. Then a nap before the evening follies.
Saturday, 28 July 2018: Five weeks and five days. Daiana and I have just now returned from a four day getaway to Barcelona and the Hotel Arts. Helped break up a very hot summer. Next week we’ve got Brits visiting and we’ve a fun night at Casamar planned for them. Before you know it summer
will be gone and it’ll be time for Euro and soon after that SMC.
Friday, 3 August: Four weeks and six days. Almost just a month until kick off. Bananas! I’m too hot as I write this. The Costa Brava is suffering from an unrelenting heatwave. More than 32 celsius (90 fahrenheit) with no breeze and no air-con in this beach house. Even at 6 in the morning it’s 78f.
Ah, how I count the days until Folkestone when we walk the Leas. Although at the moment it is hot there as well with no rain in sight and the grass has all gone brown.
Friday, 10 August: Three weeks and five days until we’re off to Euro. When I drop below the thirty day mark the excitement levels up to a fever pitch, eclipsed only once the calendar reaches the final week. Daiana has me beat this year, already having packed her bags. I won’t think about packing until two weeks before, the weather in England is too unpredictable this time of the year.
Two days ago it was 93f here and I was cooking. This morning it’s a gorgeous 64f degrees and heading for a high of 80f. My preferred temperatures.
Wednesday, 15 August: 3 weeks and a day until kick off. I often think of Euro-Militaires past in two separate epochs. Pre-Crisis and Post-Crisis. Post-Crisis was rather like liberation with travel to Euro as simple a short hop on British Airways from Barcelona. Pre-Crisis feels like ancient history. In a way it is. From 2003-2008 Euro required a long haul from the States.
Friday, 17 August: Another milestone. 20 days until kick-off. Under three weeks. I begin counting days. My memories takes me back to September 19th, 2003. A
Friday. My first Euro. The first Friday. I had no idea what was in store for me. I didn’t know Folkestone, but I’d chosen the Clifton Hotel on a referral from my friend Jon Tamkin. Friday morning I went out for a walk about the town with my Sony Mavica. Back then it was state-of-the-art, recording images to mini-dv disc. Just as soon as I discovered Folkestone’s Church Street and The Bayle, I knew this was my town. The lovely pubs and the old church. It was everything familiar to me. The England I knew. I felt at home. It reminded me in every way of Southwick and Brighton when I was a little boy.
Thursday, 23 August: 14 days. August wanes. Soon the village will grow quiet again. This time next week I can consider what gear to take to England. At the moment it’s too difficult to predict with the hottest summer on record for England continuing.
Saturday, 25 August: 12 days. Oh dear, I’m so excited. Watching programmes on Gatwick airport. I can’t believe it’s less than two weeks now. Last night Daiana and I had a lot of fun pulling clothing for the trip. Tonight shoes. The second-round of packing is done. Taking three bags. We have a lot of stops to make: The View Hotel, Folkestone, Detling Antique Fair, Horsted Place in Sussex and the London Ritz before heading back down to Folkestone and The Clifton Hotel for Euro.
Busy weeks ahead.
For me, the most exciting times are the days before departure. As now. Just under two weeks to go. Either they fly by or pass a snail’s pace. I’ll let you know on that.
The start of the journey has a buzz of its own. That moment we climb into the Audi A8 and our driver Louis backs out to the street and the electric driveway gate slides slowly shut, before securing in place. I tuck the house keys and gate remote into my camouflage ruck with the knowledge we are on our way. Nothing to do now but sit in the back seat and relax for the next 1 hour and 25 minutes journey up to Barcelona El Prat Aeropuerto. Well, might bring a coffee.
The next moment we enjoy is after clearing customs and walking down the escalator to the enormous duty free shopping. We spend an hour stocking up on Dior face creams and perfumes for Daiana, Montblanc pens and my yearly bottle of YSL Kouros.
With that done we visit the Sala Lounge and have a coffee and a light breakfast whilst waiting our flight boarding time.
The next moment I find delightful is as the chauffeur delivers us to the steps to the Clifton Hotel. I look up at the Victorian Era facade, to the hotel I’ve known these many years. There is a link here to a moment when I was happy when all else wasn’t. Perhaps the only truly happy moment in the time before the crisis. When I was with all the mates and the days were filled with morning coffee on The Clifton terrace, afternoons on The Leas Cliff terrace with beer and a cigarette, catching up with the lads, and evenings filled with laughter at the Southcliff terrace.
And all of it from a shared love of our hobby.
Monday, 27 August: Dun-dun. Ten days to kick off. Cue the Law & Order music. Another benchmark. It seems the days are falling away faster now. I’m eager for every possible reason to return to Folkestone. One which I don’t express enough is the most breathtaking walk from Dover back to Folkestone. This year we’re adding a second walk. And one we’ve not done before. We’re going to begin in St. Margaret’s Bay, up coast from Dover, and make our way along the cliffs to Dover proper. I’m told there are many beautiful sites along the way including the South Foreland Lighthouse where Marconi experimented. I’m also going to try to video with the iPhone X instead of the GoPro. The Audio on the GoPro leaves much to be desired and the iPhone is so simple to use. I’m taking my auxiliary battery pack with me so hopefully we’ll have extra battery life.
Wednesday, 29 August: 8 days days until kick off. I can hardly contain myself. Tomorrow will be another milestone. 7 days. Oh my!Did I mention we’ll be returning to The Clifton this year after an absence of three years? Couldn’t be helped really. When we stayed in 2015 the public rooms were getting a bit run down. So, in ’16 we stayed at the Grand. The public rooms there were quite magnificant. The private apartments? Na. In 2017 we stayed at The View Hotel twice – in May and then September. Amazing hotel. But last September we stopped into The Clifton and found it beautifully renovated. It didn’t take much to twist my arm.
I’m quite looking forward to visiting room 111 again. For me there is much history to that room. I think the moment I climb the secluded creaky stairs leading to rooms 111 and 112 I’ll be fit to be tied.
Thursday, 30 August: Dun-dun! 7 Days. One last crazy, noisy weekend in the Costa Brava and then it becomes our village again with all the tourists gone home.
This morning I am taking you back to Euro Militaire 2008. Some say the last great Euro. Before the crisis changed everything for many. This was a year after I won a gold for “Herr Hauptmann’s Champagne” and internally I was still basking in the afterglow of having fulfilled the dream of winning a Euro Gold. That sounds awful, really. Not meant to. But Euro Gold was my dream for years!
I also spent an entire month away from my Los Angeles home in 2008. With New York Fashion Week, the US Open and London Fashion Week I was busy, busy. It was an exciting time. The moment I left London for Folkestone out of Charring Cross (late because my dopey ex-wife insisted I delay my departure to take dozens and dozens of photographs of her jogging around London for a magazine article) I felt completely free and at ease, taken away from all things and people I learnt to detest.
The further away the train travelled from London and the closer I came to Folkestone the happier I became. When I checked into room 112 – The Clifton’s only suite – I was giddy. Funnier still was when I put my clothes away in the bedroom closet and found a bottle of CA Glue I left in there from Euro 2007 when I did repairs on the fly to my diorama. I also had a look under the oriental rug on the floor in the siting room and discovered a few errant foam peas spilled when unpacking the diorama in 2007. I had such a good laugh. I had added my own imprint to the history of The Clifton, if not temporarily.
Now, September 2018, we’ll be returning to the scene-of-the-crime. But room 111. In some ways a better choice. Better bathroom with large window. It’s a nostalgic visit too. The public rooms of The Clifton have been done up and the owners are beginning to renovate the guest rooms. I’ve been assured they are working from the top down and Room 111 remains exactly as it has since I first stayed there in 2010. This is perhaps the last time we’ll see the room like this. Soon it will be renovated and much updated – but much different. I wanted to stay one last time for my memories. Lazy naps after lunch with friends. Rain pouring down outside the windows. Soaking in the bathtub listening to The Smiths. Waking up to the quark of seagulls.
We’ll see you again, Clifton Hotel. This time for an extended stay. We’ll enjoy steaks in the new Marco Pierre White Steakhouse and swizzle cocktails in the Ocean Bleu lounge. We’ll sip coffee on your terrace and watch the world go by. We’ll remember the past. And plan for the future.
Life is a wonder. After Euro 2008 the world went sideways. Market crash. Rock & Republic fell apart. Divorce. Economic contraction. Now here we are in 2018 and the world is better than ever. It took ten years to get back to this place. But we’ve done. We’ve rebuilt our own little world. It’s better than before the crisis of ’08. I’m on my way and this time doing it my way with my lovely wife Daiana. The world is our oyster.
Friday, 31 August: 6 Days. August Afternoons. Then September Sundays. In August 1982 I was a sixteen year old counting down the last days of summer before returning to Andover for my final year of public school. I remember how precious those warm sunny days felt at the end of August. The smell of freshly cut summer grass. The sound of drums from the school nearby as the marching band practiced. In the pit of my stomach there was uncertainty and excitement. You enjoy every last little thing about those warm lazy days because it isn’t going to happen again. Not like that anyway.
September arrives. As it does. Life carries on. I went on to university then out into the world. Later August afternoons gave way to September Sundays and the same uncertainty and excitement, but for another reason. Since 2003 September meant EuroMilitaire. And the countdown to it began in August, becoming thunderous once I start ticking off September days on the calendar. It’s September tomorrow. It’s Sunday in two days. In six days we’ll be ready to push off for England and EuroMilitaire.
Pins & needles here.
Saturday, 1 September: 5 days until kick off. Life in harmony again. The neighbors have gone. It’s quiet. The temps have cooled enough so I can go out for a brilliant morning ride on my Falco bicycle. This is it. 5 days and we’re en route to England in grand style.
I’m sure I’ll be reading this on our British Airways flight. I wonder how is my seat? Comfy? Served a nice cuppa coffee? Little nap after take off?
I’ve included a video of the plane coming in for its landing at Gatwick.
The photo at right has become tradition. And it too is the last time. For the last six Euros I’ve stood on this terrace with the flowers in their late summer bloom and a cuppa coffee. By 2019 we’ll be in our new house.
Monday, 3 September: 3 Days. Dun-dun! Yet another mile marker ticked off. We’re in the home stretch. It’s the final week. Monday morning. 6.30am. At my desk with my cuppa waiting on the dawn. Three mornings from now we are en route.
The flight from Barcelona to Gatwick is more of a commuter flight. Less than two hours, the drive from Gatwick to Folkestone almost as long as the flight. Doesn’t matter. In three days time Daiana and I will be sitting in the Rocksalt Restaurant having a lovely meal together over-looking the harbour. Meanwhile…tick-tock goes the clock and with each passing hour kick-off grows nearer.
Tuesday, 4 September: Just two days to kick-off. Hard to believe it’s nearly time to go. Autumn has arrived.
Where did the summer go so fast?
Thursday is the day we’ve be waiting for. The travel to England. Checking in at the hotel. The moment we open the door to our room and go in. The first walk along The Leas to Boots The Chemist, stocking up on toiletries. Getting dressed in our autumn clobber for that first dinner at Rocksalt. Oh, that will be quite a moment. Possibly my most favourite place in the all of Folkestone. We’ll do drinks in The View Hotel first. No chance I’ll drink in the Rocksalt’s bar with its dreadful service. (post-script: New bar staff and much better service. We had a delightful barman who created lovely cocktails for us and brought them to our table.) The restaurant is another matter. It’s perfect. We always have such a wonderful evening there, Daiana and I.
Wednesday, 5 September: Dun-dun. 1 day to kick-off. It’s the day before. It’s early here. 7.15am. Sun just coming up over the Med. It’s very quiet. Everyone is gone but the French across the street. My world is peaceful again. In a few hours more I’ll print our British Airways boarding passes. Later tonight I’ll finish packing the suitcase and carry-on and lay out the morning clobber for the flight.
I’ve had a moment of reflection. Although pre-crisis Euros were the best when it came to the social aspect. Euro ’13 was the last of the great truly hatstand Euro-bashes. This was after all the year of Rikard’s magic trick. 2015 saw a radical change. For me it was the first proper holiday as Daiana came along. ’16 was the end of Euro. Nobody attended. They’d all moved on to the greener pastures of Scale Model Challenge.
2017 was the new Euro and I was rather pleased. I’ll let you know about ’18.
Wednesday, 5 September: It’s 8.08pm on a balmy late summer evening. The night is just coming on now. Sitting on the bed watching Sky News and doing last minute prep. The day I’ve been counting down for nearly 4 months begins in just a few hours from now. I must be up at 3.ooam.
My memory of travelling to Euro ’03 and ’04 from Sherman Oaks grows foggy. However, I recall flying out of JFK for London in ’06, ’07 and ’08 as August was a busy month back then. New York Fashion Week. New York Market Week. Then London Fashion Week. Between London Fashion Week and Paris Fashion Week was EuroMilitaire. I was away from LA for a month at a go. The weeks before Euro were a mad period of events, US Open Tennis, and keeping the
housekeeping up-to-date in my NYC apartment. Flying from JFK was for me better than flying from LAX. British Airways terminal at JFK is superior in every way to Los Angeles’ Bradley International Terminal. The business class lounges and BA’s upper-class has so much to offer. The flight is overnight, arriving into Heathrow at 6.02 in the morning. But then — of course — one has to fight the traffic into central London in the back of a black cab.
Right-o. 10.10pm now. Time to get to bed. When I next write it’ll be kick-off. Day of.
Thursday, 6 September: 3.39 in the morning. Finally. Finally. I am writing this date. Kick-off. Day of!
Early morning quiet. Warm morning. Distant Thunder and lightening. Second year in a row it begins with rain. More importantly, the weather is looking very nice at the other end. Morning news on from the States. Some of the cats already wanting their morning grub. Cuppa hot caffe. Daiana asleep for another hour.
I hope the day is everything I’ve hoped it would be.
Thursday, 6 September
- 3.00am: Awake
- 6.00am: Depart 27 La Miranda
- 8.30am: Arrive Barcelona El Prat
- 9.00am: Duty Free Fun!
- 10.40am: Depart Barcelona El Prat Terminal 1
BA2707. Booking Reference: LJQR8H Seats 3A & 3C
- 11.50am: Arrive London Gatwick Terminal S.
- 12.20pm: Blacklane Limo Confirmation #:390005712
- 1.45pm: Arrive View Hotel, Folkestone
- 8.30pm: Rocksalt
Friday, 7 September
- Shopping in Folkestone
- 7.30pm : The Cliffe Restaurant bar for drinks
- 8.00pm: Blooms@the1/4. The Old High St. 2-4. CT20 1RW Folkestone. Reservation #:29519757
Saturday, 8 September
- 6.00am: Wake up.
- 8.00am: Detling Antiques, Vintage & Collectors Fair. Kent County Showgrounds
- 12.00pm: Driver Pick-up for return to Folkestone.
- 7.30pm: Folkestone Wine Company. Reservation confirmed by Polly.
Sunday, 9 September
- 7.45pm: Dinner Cliffe Restaurant
Monday, 10 September
- 9.00am: Depart for Horsted Place. Little Horsted, Uckfield TN22 5TS, United Kingdom +44
1 825.750.581 Booking Reference: WTB8A0850
- 11.00am: Arrive Horsted Place
- 11.30am: Depart for Southwick
- Return by train to Brighton.
- 7.30: Dinner Horsted Place.
Tuesday, 11 September
- Lewis Pub Grub
Wednesday, 12 September
- Blacklane Private Driver from Hosted to London Ritz. Confirmation #: 8993967
- 11.00am: Arrive Ritz London
- 7.00pm: Rivoli Bar drinks
- 8.30pm: Nobu, Berkley St. Confirmation #: 2110400663
Thursday, 13 September
- The London walk.
- Turnbull & Asser
- Saville Row
- 8.15pm: Dinner in The Ritz Dinning room.
Friday, 14 September
- Portobello Road
- 8.30pm: Six Storeys on Soho. 11 Soho Square, London W1D 3QE
Saturday, 15 September
- 1.30pm High Tea Palm Court. Saturday, 15 September: It’s been nine days since my last entry. And we’ve had so many adventures her in
England.Sitting in this marvellous suite at the Ritz London, feet up, cup of caffe. Almost ten years to the day since the massive economic crash that cost me so dearly. Finally I feel like I have come out the other side of the crisis. Its a beautiful warm sunny morning and my love and I are going out to look about the shops before high tea in the Palm Court. Life has come full circle and we’re all the better for it. Ten years ago I was about to enjoy Euro ’08. And it was just two weeks later when I was sitting in my workshop in Marina Del Rey having a sandwich when the market collapsed and the crisis began. None of us could have imagined what was about to happen next.Tomorrow we’re back to Folkestone!
Sunday, 16 September
- Arrive Clifton Hotel Best Western. Clifton Gardens, The Leas, Folkestone CT20 2EB Tel: +44 1303 85123. Reservation: BK023301/1
- 7.00pm: Marco Pierre-White Steakhouse Booking Ref: 30XM3J4W
Monday, 17 September
- Dover to Folkestone Dream Hike ’18
- Radnor Arms Pub. Great place.
- Monday, 17 September: Monday was the scheduled Dream Hike 2018. And a dream it was. It was a day you wished didn’t end from start to finish. I opened my eyes at 6.30 in the morning to a sun coming in through the curtains to our charming room at the Clifton.
- Dream Hike ’18 – Dover to Folkestone.
Tuesday, 18 September
- Laundry Day
- About town
- Pizza @ Follies. Was okay. Not great
- Tuesday, 18 September: I’m laying on the bed looking at the beautiful original crown mouldings of Room 111. Daiana is next to me watching Film4’s “Everest.” Outside are the quarks of the seagulls. Evermore I’ll associate Folkestone with the sound of gulls. In this moment, happiness if defined. I know next we return this room will be redecorated. I’m grasping onto one of the last tangible memories of Euros past I have. I’ll not be happy once it is gone.
Wednesday, 19 September
- 8.15pm:Dinner @ The Marquis. *Alkham Valley. Arkham Valley Rd. +44 130 487 3410. Reference No.: CW0KTUJM *
Thursday, 20 September
- St. Margarets to Dover Walk. Start: Dover Patrol Memorial. 40 Granville Rd, St Margarets Bay. St Margaret’s at Cliffe, Dover CT15 6DS
- End: The Chalk of the Town. 9 Athol Terrace, Dover. CT16 1LT.
- Dinner @ Folkestone Wine Company
Friday, 21 September
9.45pm: Rocksalt .Confirmation #1870787324
Saturday, 22 September
- Euro-Mil Day 1: Two of the days highlights were randomly bumping into Pekka Nieminen and meeting the guys from Yen Models. Great company. Wonderful product lines. I spent a good few quid at their trade stand.
- 8.00: Radnor Arms. Drinks & dinner.
Sunday, 23 September
- Euro-Mil Day 2
- Western Heights Open Day
- 8.30: Marco Pierre White Steakhouse at the Clifton Hotel. Booking Ref: WPH804AL
Monday, 24 September
- 11.00am: Blacklane Confirmation #:231582386
- 2.10pm: Depart Gatwick . BA2708 Club Europe. Seats 4A & 4C
- 5.20pm: Arrive Barcelona
So then. That’s Euro Miniatures Expo and our autumn holiday in Blighty. It was never meant to be made public, but with all that is gone on in the world this last year with the Covid Pandemic. Why not go native? I can say, Euro 2018 was a success. Good turnout. Excellent vendors. More armour in competition that in 2017. Huge turnout for figurines. Herein lies the future strength of Euro.
Stay safe. Take care of each other.