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From Luton with heartbreak and plenty wahala!

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When I received my nomination for Best Online Media in the 2012 Ghana UK Base Achievement (GOBI) Awards, I was beside myself with joy because it was the first time that my blog, www.ameyawdebrah.com had been nominated for anything.

Of course later on, I would be nominated for the National Youth Achievement Awards and the Ghana Fashion Awards.  A good year for me? Needless to say, I was feeling lucky! I made my flight arrangements for November 9-26 so I could attend the GOBI Awards in UK and as well cover the Ghana Music Awards Europe on November 24. Little did I know the trip would be filled with eventualities and ‘heartbreaks’. Well, and a lot of food also!

A new experience with Virgin

I guess by now, it is obvious that my airline of choice to the UK is Virgin Atlantic. After having my first Virgin experience earlier in the year, I was looking forward to my trip with my ever-ready palate for good food.  My flight was scheduled for 11 am, so got to the airport by 10 am and after checking in and going through customs I made my way to my Premium Economy seat.

Immediately I sat down, I was asked for my choice of drink and even before the plane would fill up, I was sipping on my orange juice. Soon, we took off and needless to say, all that was on my mind was what could be on the menu.  The cabin crew finally delivered the menu revealing a tasty selection of traditional and contemporary cuisine with a choice of red or white wine from Berry Bros and Rudd, one of UK’s most innovative wine merchants, boasting five Masters of Wine.  Also on offer was a selection of complimentary drinks throughout the flight, including beers, spirits and soft drinks.

Ok, now over to the food! For starters, I had smoked salmon and marinated potato salad with sour cream; and for the main course I opted for Chicken filled with sautéed mushrooms with red pepper sauce, potatoes au gratin and broccoli.  And of course I couldn’t help but wonder if I could request for the Spinach ravioli with mushroom cream sauce and Parmesan cheese, and  the pan-fried panga fish with jollof rice, tomato stew, palava and kelewele in addition. After all, there weren’t that many people onboard the flight; surely the was plenty to go around. Soon came the yummy dessert, Tiramisu, an Italian cake with coffee sauce.

Also adding to the wining and dining experience was the use of  silver cutlery set, plates and glasses.  Now I can’t wait to try out Upper  Class. Enough of the food, there was more to enjoy on the flight beside the food. The Virgin Media in-flight entertainment as usual had an impressive list of movie releases, TV shows , music and games to choose from.  I was also excited to discover  the  new touchscreen tablet-based Virgin Atlantic in-flight entertainment system, known as Vera Touch.

The Samsung device also gives passengers the option of movies, TV shows and music; only on a wider screen with crispy clears pictures.  Before the entertainment on the v-port started, I watched the first episode of  ‘Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23’ on the Vera and continued my viewing pleasure with ‘Total Recall’, ‘American Reunion’  on the v-port.

Then it was back to the Vera for  ‘Two Days in New York’, in fact I was spoilt for choice. In between  the movies I skimmed through ‘Electronic Earth’, the smash hit debut studio album from British singer-producer Labrinth. And yes, I played  one of my favourite songs of the moment, ‘Beneath Your Beautiful’, which features Scottish star Emeli Sande, over and over again on the Vera device. Before landing, I warmed myself up with a cup of tea and delicious finger sandwiches with chicken and coleslaw and cheese and tomato. I sealed it off with a chocolate cake as a braced myself for the cold weather in London.

…and then the wahala began!

After touching down, our captain announced that we had to stay on the tarmac for some time because our terminal was engaged by another flight due to an eventuality at Heathrow. After about 20 minutes, it was all systems go and we finally got out of the plane and made our way to immigrations. I was cleared by a pleasant lady at immigrations, who wished me good luck with my GUBA Award nomination. I thanked her and made my way to collect my luggage.

Since the GUBA Awards was holding in London the following day, I had made prior arrangements to stay with a friend in London for the award ceremony and then move to Luton to stay with my ever generous host, Chris Vincent (the menace at www. ghanacelebrities.com). I got on the underground train and headed to Finsbury Park and later connected to Black Horse Road where my friend was ‘supposed’ to pick me up. Fortunately I had some little talk time on my UK SIM card so I texted him from the time I arrived at Heathrow to the time I got on the train and also when I connected from Finsbury Park.

I was a little worried when I never got any replies but I thought my friend was just waiting for me to arrive at Black Horse Station so he would come and get me. I called immediately when I got to the station and there was no answer. I called  few more times and when there was still no reply I started sending more SMS till I ran out of credit and could only use my free T-Mobile ‘call me back’ lifelines. I kept waiting in the cold, hoping to have a call or see my friend pop up but nothing happened after an hour. I was tired from the long flight and soon became frustrated, contemplating how I was going to spend the night.

The thought of checking into a hotel for the night came to mind but then I wondered how easy it would be with no prior booking and of course whether my wallet would allow it. (LOL) As I waited for answers, Chris called from Luton to see if I had gotten home safely and to his surprise I was still in the cold at  Black Horse Road station. He suggested that I head to Luton instead and I agreed because it was my best option. I was gutted because if I had gone straight to Luton from the airport I would have been home relaxing by then.

I got on the bus and headed to King’s Cross /St. Pancreas and then connected on a East Midlands Train to Luton. Fortunate for me, it was fast track and the first stop was Luton; so my journey seemed shorter than usual. I took notice of that terminal so I would use it whenever I’m heading to Luton. I called Chris when I got to Luton station and he came for me and we stopped by a ‘food joint’ to grab some doner kebab.  We got home and had some chit chat before heading  off to bed for some much needed rest. Of course only after I had taken a warm shower.

….and now the heart break and more wahala

When I woke up, the only thing on my mind was the GUBA Awards; how to make my way to the ceremony, what to wear and of course the big question – would I win? I spent most of the day watching TV catching up on Xfactor USA and The Xfactor. In order to make it to the awards on time in London, I started getting ready by 4pm so I could catch the 4.45 bus to Luton Town Centre in order to catch a train to King’s Cross.

I put on my Kwab Asamoah Kustom Look suit without the regular pants because it is was light and I couldn’t stand the cold around my vital organs down below. Instead I wore the jacket over a pair of black Marks & Spencer jeans. I made my way to the bus stop by 4.40pm to make sure I didn’t miss the bus. When it was 50 minutes past the hour without any trace of the bus I got worried, and needless to say I was feeling cold.  It appeared that the 4.45 bus wasn’t coming and I had to catch the next bus, which was scheduled for 5.47.

The GUBA Awards was scheduled to start at 6pm, and I wanted to be there on time. Now apparent that I would be late, I was torn between going back to the apartment to rest a bit and waiting at the bus stop in the cold for the next bus. For some strange reason, I chose the latter. Finally the bus arrived and I made my way to the train station, bought my ticket and headed to King’s Cross. I then connected via the underground and headed to the Vauxhall Train Station.  I then started looking for the City Plaza Hotel, the venue for the GUBA Awards.

Luckily I asked for directions from a gentleman who was also heading towards the ceremony and together, we found our way to the venue. Although I was late, the ceremony had not started so I  checked in and made my way to my table. I was really impressed with the organization of the awards, the seating arrangement was classy and I was fortunate to be seated next to a friend from cyber space, Emily who was also nominated for Best African Fusion Designer for her Bubushiiky brand.  So I wasn’t bored on my table;  we had a good chat as we both waited for  the announcement of winners in our categories.

Unfortunately neither of us won our category. Myjoyonline won my category and I wasn’t too disappointed at all. I knew I was up against some serious competition, I was just heartbroken because I  came all the way to UK and didn’t win. And of course I had to deal with the sharp teeth of Chris when I go back to Luton; he told me from the onset that I was wasting my money by coming all the way to the UK for an award that he was almost certain I wouldn’t win. After majority of the winners were announced I decided to leave the ceremony in order to make it back to Luton on time. Of course I had my eyes set on catching the East Midlands Train for another fast track ride back ‘home’.

When I got to the Vauxhall Station it was announced that the line connecting to King’s Cross had been closed by the fire brigade and we had to wait for almost 20 minutes before a train finally arrived. I immediately headed to the terminal where I hoped to find the East Midlands service but sadly it was closed and I had to use the long route. Oh what a wahala!

After what seemed like a never ending journey, I finally arrived in Luton. By this time I had stuffed my stomached with the cupcakes which were included in the GUBA Awards gift bag to sweeten my night of ‘heartbreak’.  I called Chris to come pick me up and the first thing he did was to ask whether I was bringing the award home either for myself or for his ghanacelebrities.com, which was also nominated in the same category. I initially answered and the affirmative but after I burst into laughter, he realised there was no win for either of us.

I got home and after enduring Chris’s dry humour, I had some rest and prayed that I will at least win the Ghana Fashion Award for Contribution to Fashion, which comes off later in November,  to wrap up what has nonetheless been a good year. Hint hint Santa!

…an end to the wahala?

Well with a few days left in Luton before I return to Ghana, I certainly wish there will be no more eventualities. Waking up one morning to find out my laptop had given up on me, surely should be the last wahala I suffer while in the UK. I had to buy a new laptop which I had not budgeted for, hence affecting my shopping plans. So if I don’t get you a gift when I return to Ghana, don’t blame me; thank God I arrived home sane!

#YUNPLUGGED

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