_I’d always wanted a celebrity moment but, let’s face it, the chances are few and far between. Little did I know when I upgraded my Vancouver to Vegas flight that my dream was going to be realised… A Stateside virgin, I was flying to Vegas for a mini-break before heading back to Toronto to see family. US Customs at Vancouver airport were a little scary, especially when I found myself detained for 10 minutes in a waiting area. I thought it might be something to do with the Chicken Bisto gravy granules I was carrying as a present (don’t ask!), but it turned out my name was on the FBI's Top 10 Most Wanted list – surprising because how many Piara Strainges can there be in the World – yet not surprising when you consider my last trips had been to Serbia, Jordan, Libya and Egypt. I work for an Adventure Tour Operator and I get around - and the later dubbed "Arab Spring" was already in full swing in Tunisia and Egypt with rumblings in Libya, Bahrain, Yemen and Jordan... So I’m lounging right at the front of the plane in first class and reading through the menu for dinner, when I happen to look up and spy Matt Goss (of Bros fame) boarding the plane. Alas, I am surrounded by Americans so there is no-one to share my excitement with! Enter Facebook. Whipping out my mobile and quickly turning off flight mode, all thoughts of data roaming charges fly out the window as I quickly update my status. As I’m frantically typing, Matt takes his seat behind me! Dinner comes and goes and we’re an hour into the flight and still I haven’t turned around to make conversation… Then Matt asks our flight attendant if I can lower my shutter as it’s reflecting on his screen. The opportunity has arrived! I down the rest of my wine, turn around and in my best English, say “Would you think it awfully rude of me if I ask you for your autograph?” Elation hits me as he introduces me to Robin, his Manager (also the Pussycat Dolls creator) and we get talking about Fleet and Camberley, our Customs palava at Vancouver (Matt was detained and questioned for an hour) and his Vegas show. He writes me a little message and I get the all-important pic taken. Wow! But that’s not all – on arrival into Vegas, I meet his PR Executive Justin and they offer to wait with me for my bag and then taxi me to Caesars Palace in the Gossy Limo!!! How can I refuse? On the short drive we discuss the US X Factor and how successful we think it might be. When we get to the hotel, a kiss from Matt and a complimentary ticket to his show that evening seal the surrealism and I’m treated like a VIP with my own concierge to show me around the fabulous Palace. Not a bad introduction to America!
Blogging is an amazing concept so here I am giving it a whirl. You'll get words. You'll get pics. Sometimes a vid or two. You'll get tongue in cheek, the odd humble opinion and an honest insight into my travels and writing life. Maybe even a few gems along the way. I'll be musing on home turf as I see more and more of the UK and sharing my experiences further afield on holidays and adventurous trips across the globe.