Hi all! So I’m back from Baku, trip one, which has been an incredible and very exciting start to our Eurovision journey. Being there with Englebert and the fuss surrounding him was fascinating, everyone was just clamouring to talk to him at the press reception. I had the most stunning view of the Caspian sea from my fabulous hotel room, and the food and drink we had for a dinner hosted for us on the roof of the Hilton one night was just exquisite. The finest wines chosen by Englebert himself went straight to my head as we watched fireworks exploding above us and took in the sea breeze, it was magical. I’m doing two trips as I had two very special events to come home for in between the rehearsals and the main even this coming Saturday, a Diamond Jubilee dinner with the Queen herself this evening, and of course my birthday which was yesterday, and I was spoilt rotten which I’ll tell you about in just a moment.
I almost didn’t make it back for it either! I had the adventure of a lifetime getting to the airport … I was up bright and early ready to leave, and there outside the hotel waiting for me was a beautiful black car, I thought “aah this is the life”! The driver asked me if I was going to the airport and was I from London, I said yes that’s me Arlene Phillips, and got in the car. Driving to the airport, we went through an unbelievable amount of slums and areas I’d never seen before, it was quite an eye opener. After about 10 minutes, my driver stopped in some strange place and went to ask two policemen something. I opened the window and thought “what’s going on, where am I being taken?” I saw lots of shouting hand waving and the driver nodded, and we continue on our way. We drove a bit further, my driver kept looking round, got on the telephone, off the telephone and drove to another area where on right hand side a large van had stopped. The driver once again got out and I realised he was asking for directions! The bus driver waved his arms in a ‘follow me’ sign and we went off with my driver dutifully following. After we went a bit further the bus hooted and went off leaving our driver once again stranded on the road, not knowing which way to go. He turned left onto a round about, went a little bit further and stopped again to ask somebody else the way to the airport. He then set off on the path to the airport and suddenly we hit a wide road that looked familiar to me. The road we had originally come on in the bus! We hared down it at breakneck speed driving past every sign that said airport until the road narrowed, where lots of people were waiting on the left hand side, just before it turned into a dirt road. The driver did a U-Turn and asked some men who were standing there, obviously how to get to the airport, while I tried to explain he had driven past it, in broken English, though why I bothered speaking any kind of english at all I have no idea! One of the men jumped in the car and guided the driver back to the airport which we had passed a good ten minutes before, and I finally arrived at the airport, where I was met by a lovely Eurovision helper. I was rushed to the correct terminal and just made the flight! Now anyone that knows me will be aware I am not the calmest of travelers, so this was like some kind of personal hell for me… However I made it home safe and sound to enjoy the most wonderful birthday with my family.
I came down in the morning to the most beautiful array of flowers and cards and presents all laid out across the table, which of course I took no time tearing in to! I rushed off to do a quick interview with channel four, yes I was even working on my Birthday! Half an hour later I was back home and ready to head off to lunch with the family and Coco at an italian restaurant I had never been to before called Il Baretto in Marylebone, and I can not recommend it highly enough. We ate enough to feed a small army, the pudding alone could have fed the five thousand… and when it came to the question of dinner later that evening all of us agreed we couldn’t manage even a bowl of soup! I also must say a huge thank you for all the wonderful messages I received on Twitter and Facebook were so overwhelming, so thank you all.
Abi has written a short piece for you, all about my birthday flowers:
One thing I forgot to mention earlier was that before I left for Baku, I attended the most wonderful and intimate dinner with Sir Terry Wogan and a few of his select guests who are all ambassadors for Children in Need, and it was such a fascinating evening. I was sat between Sir Terry and the incredible chef Richard Corrigan who had prepared the dinner that evening, and they were telling tales I was simply transfixed by.
In other news, I have an exciting announcement coming soon about a range of leisure wear I have coing out with Marisota, so keep your eyes peelend for that…
So I’m off to get ready for Her Majesty, I have Alana standing by armed with brushes and rollers, and I’m going to be wearing a stunning blue dress by Roberto Cavalli I picked up from Selfridges yesterday, so I’ll make sure to post lots of pics!
Next week I’ll be writing all about my upcoming trip back to Baku and the Eurovision final, so make sure you’re all watching and voting away, let’s show Europe weve still got it!!
Until then… A x