Saturday 26 November – Collect tickets
When we arrived at the hotel last night we dropped off our bags in our very comfortable room and headed to the bar, where a live band played seventies’ soul. We enjoyed (strong) cocktails and really good food before bed. I should be exhausted but I’m giddy.
This morning I swear I woke up smiling. The hotel is lovely; it smells of roses and every surface sparkles. The tea rooms are open to bookings for afternoon tea complete with butler. So far, I have found little pots of honey in our room, on the breakfast table and by the drinks area. A variety of freshly brewed coffees and teas wait by the lifts for guests to enjoy in their rooms. The staff are smiling and welcoming. The room is enormous. Heaven in Houston.
We collect the concert tickets from The Toyota Centre’s Box Office without any difficulty. Phew!
M: “Do you know when they’re doing the sound check?” [smile]
Box Office Assistant: “I’m sorry Ma’am, we don’t know”
M: “Have they done it yet?” [bigger smile]
Box Office Assistant: “I’m sorry Ma’am, we don’t know that”
I manage to spy a Starbucks opposite the Toyota Stadium and persuade Hubby that it would be sensible to grab (another!) hot beverage and leisurely plan our day. Hubby wants to go to the NASA Museum, so he likes the idea of planning around that. I successfully negotiate an hour or two of Christmas shopping but I don’t see any sign of activity around the Toyota Centre.
I have time to call Mum. H is happy and enjoying having Grannie all to herself. She’s asleep but apparently she has bought me a present (chocolate) and she has wrapped it for me.
Hubby loved NASA, really, really loved it. He had a very enthusiastic chat with the tour guide in the original VIP viewing room. We were very gently ushered out at the end of the talk.
It was surreal being driven around on a tram car in the sunshine. When we left the UK yesterday it was bitterly cold. I found a Starbucks franchise in the main hall. Ha!
We enjoyed outstanding Mexican seafood and cocktails at a restaurant called Caracol. As we waited for a taxi, we chatted to the doorman and as Caracol is his favourite restaurant he arranged for the hotel driver to drop us to the door and collect us.
An all-round fairy tale day.
Sunday 27 November 2016 – Concert Day.
I wake up, take my meds and face time H. She’s asleep, it’s 2.00pm in the UK and she’s had a fun filled morning with Grannie and Grandad. I know she will have eaten her body weight in chocolate and cake. She has apparently enjoyed a trip to the toy shop. I envisage returning home to piles of toys in the living room. It’s lovely to at least see her sleep. Mum tells me she’s having a ball, so I should enjoy the trip without guilt. I will certainly try!!
I haven’t missed any medication or treatment in weeks. My chest feels great.
Hubby and I enjoy a leisurely breakfast in the conservatory. The hotel staff are warm and welcoming. Everybody smiles. It’s lovely. I’m relaxed, I can breathe: I’m having an actual conversation with Hubby over a spicy Texan breakfast. Houston, you are a delight.
Hubby has spent the last few days deciding whether to watch the Houston Texans play San Diego Chargers at the NRG Stadium. The stadium is a decent drive from the hotel. The game is due to finish around 4.30 to 5.00pm. The concert starts at 8.00pm and the doors open from 6.30pm. That’s too close for me. I will not risk getting stuck in traffic/being unable to get a cab back to the hotel/ falling down the steps after the game. As we are sitting at the breakfast table his preference is to go. As I book myself into afternoon tea at 3.00pm he decides to join me and miss the game.
M: “Are you sure?”
H: “Yes, when do we ever get to spend time together?”
M: “Yes, but are you sure?”
As we walk up the stairs
H:”Afternoon tea means that we’ll be at the hotel, we’re not rushing back…”
M:”Well, if you change your mind, I’ll just have afternoon tea alone and read a book”
H:”Nope, its fine”
LOB has expressed an interest in cowboy boots and Sarah has given me strict instructions to buy another pair for her collection (she has googled the closest store to the Toyota Centre and sent me picture from their website)
We pull up outside the store and it just happens to be situated directly opposite the NRG Stadium.
M: “Do you want to watch the game?”
After face timing LOB and exchanging several photo messages with Sarah we leave the store with three sets of cowboy boots. The third pair are for me. I couldn’t resist. I don’t think I have anything in my wardrobe that will go with a pair of cowboy boots but I have been over taken with Houston love and therefore it just felt wrong to leave without them.
We grab a cocktail at the restaurant next door. Hubby comments on the size of the stadium.
M:” Do you wish you were in there?”
We sit down at the bar just as the TV screens turn on to show the game. We can see the stadium through the window…
H:”The stadium is right there”
Cocktails are on me then…
Afternoon tea is interesting. Sitting on chunky chairs in the hotel tea rooms, being serenaded by a harpist. The lady at the next table hears my accent and laughs that we have come all the way from the UK and we are having afternoon tea in our hotel. Hubby gives me a look…
She asks why we’re in Houston and when I tell her she laughs. “You came all this way for a concert? “
Hubby gives me a look…
I’m so excited I can’t eat. I do guzzle down excessive amounts of tea. When we leave we are given macarons to take with us.
At 4.50pm I have a mini meltdown on the basis that I can’t find my nail polish. I have open toe shoes. It’s Sunday afternoon and the stores around the hotel are closed. Hubby steps in and finds an open supermarket. We walk there quickly.
H: “Are we experiencing pre-concert nerves by any chance”
I’m extremely nervous that I will have a coughing fit on my own on the front row with Hubby up in the Gods, not even able to see me. Would I be noticed? Would I pull a muscle and collapse in a mess on the floor and stay there until the intermission? Would I be escorted out of the arena until the coughing disappeared?
What if I’m a distraction? What if I put her off?
I have visions of security guards dragging me out as I shout between coughs, “I sat on a plane for ten hours to be here, I’m not leaving!!!”
I coughed my way through the second half of the concert in Brooklyn. It didn’t matter so much then. Whilst I was extremely sorry for the lady sitting next to me, we were so far away and the music was so loud that she was the only one who noticed.
Hubby buys tonic water.
When we get back to the hotel he hands me a vodka and tonic, puts the Yentl sound track on loud and gently pushes me into the bathroom “Go, get ready”
Sunday 27 November 2016 – 6:30pm. Waiting by the doors. We made it.
We have a drink in the lounge before heading off in separate directions to take our seats. I head to the front row. Hubby climbs the stairs to the very top section on the very back row. Mmmmm, I owe him a very, very good Christmas present.
I am able to see him only when he turns the torch on his phone on and waves it in the air. I wave back.
I’m so excited. I introduced myself to the guy in the next seat.
M: “Can I be giddy with you please? My husband is all the way up there”
My seat neighbour: “Of course, I’m on my own too. My friends are a few rows back”
M: “Thank you”
Seat neighbour: “Are you the girl from the U.K? You met my friends in the lounge”
N: “Ha, yes, that’s me!”
The front row seat experience is definitely the way forward. For the first two songs she looked straight ahead, into the crowd over our heads.
I cannot begin to imagine what it is like to have over 10,500 people beaming at you, cheering your arrival, hanging on your every word.
People shouted from the audience in their deep Texan accents and in the main she responded. I didn’t shout anything. I didn’t want to instigate a cough. I smiled and smiled and smiled and smiled, and clapped and cheered and whooped and sprung to my feet every other song. I managed to get a “Thank you” Hurrah!
Barbra saw me dancing and singing to “Enough is Enough” and she pointed to me as she sang “Tell him to just get out” so I pointed back and sang along “nothing left to talk about…”
“Pack his rain coat, show him out, look him in the eye and simply shout”
My five year old self is jumping up and down on my bed shouting “Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeey!!”
My seat neighbour whispered “Well done!”
I love America.
The Way we Were
Being At War With Each Other
You Don’t Bring Me Flowers
Woman in Love/No More Tears (Enough is Enough)
Evergreen Being Alive
Children Will Listen Papa, Can You Hear Me?
Who Can I Turn To (When Nobody Needs Me)
Losing My Mind Isn’t This Better/How Lucky Can You Get?
Don’t Rain On My Parade.
People Happy Days Are Here Again
I Didn’t Know What Time It Was
What an amazing evening. Thank goodness for Barbra Streisand (and Hubby but we don’t tell him that).
I didn’t take photos during the concert but my seat neighbour did. I gave him my business card at the end and to my delight he promised to send me a photo.
… He did!
Thank you to Scott Clarke for the use of his fabulous artwork
Thank you to the lovely Tom Rubeck for the use of this photograph and for the others he kindly sent.