(SPOILER ALERT!! – Spoilers for the play and James’s character)
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A very early flight so I had to leave practically the night before. Awesome breakfast at Heathrow, an easy flight to Munich, a perfectly timed change of planes and an on-time arrival in Florence (which has the teeniest airport – we just kind of parked and then had to wait for the bus to take us to the terminal!) It was incredibly hot. I had an exciting bus ride into the city – jammed in the aisle with my suitcase and trying not to land in other passengers laps when we went swinging round the bends at great speed and with absolutely no regard for the lane markings whatsoever! It was like the Wacky Races in the traffic – everybody seemed to just go where they felt like regardless of anyone else. I just giggled – I couldn't do anything else.
At the station I found loads of bus stops but none with the bus I wanted. (I decided to go on the bus because it cost 1.20 Euros as opposed to about 40 plus for a taxi) So in the end I had to ask and a very nice man in one of the vendor booths who spoke excellent English told me I had to go to a different stop in a square a little distance away, so had to hop on another bus to get there. Again – in this square it was the very last stop I looked at that was the one I wanted and by now I was seriously hot and sweaty so stayed under the shade of the trees whilst I waited the 20 minutes or so for my bus. It did take me all up into the hills and eventually to the village of Pratolino where it terminated, so I got off , found the road I needed (thank you Google streetview!) and started walking the last mile of so to the Hotel Demidoff. Not something I would necessarily choose to do again. It was a very steep winding road with no pavement (luckily not too busy), incredibly hot and I was pulling my suitcase. I had to keep stopping in the shade and it took me well over half an hour to cover that mile and I was soaked and exhausted by the time I made it. My room mates Lou and Mika had already arrived but weren't in the room when I got there (we had a large balcony and a wonderful view down to Florence) I was so tired I couldn't move for a bit – but then dragged myself into the shower,after which I felt a lot better and went to find the others by the pool.
The evening was spent chatting and meeting up with new people and putting faces to names. We soon became a multi national group with people from all over – Germany, Austria,Sweden, Denmark, Israel, Czech Republic and the USA to name a few. It was awesome!
The morning was spent having breakfast, getting our passes and extras verified ( it was a very quiet crush - nobody was yelling out which pass should be where like I’m used to, so it was all a cheerful muddle!)Otherwise we were just sitting around getting more and more excited about the afternoon and waiting until it was time to be called downstairs to the Q and A room in the basement for the opening ceremony. The Slayer passes (the top ones)went first, then Vampire which most of us were and then Scooby. I managed to be lurking right by the door so when the vampire pass was called I was first down the stairs, guaranteeing a good seat.
Eventually they had to let us out and went back up to the lobby and a short line formed ready for the photographs with James. It was only supposed to be for the slayer passes, but I had asked Kyrsten earlier if it would be possible to take 2 of my photos on Friday and 2 on Saturday – as 4 at once wasn’t fair on James and it was better to split it up. She said it was fine, we could join the end of the line– especially since there were so few slayer passes – and so Jules got to join me and do one of hers too. I was still sitting down on one of the sofas when James came through to go into the photo room –he was just smiling and nodding to everyone as he came through, accompanied by two rather lovely bodyguards (who were large and fit, dressed in black and looked like they meant business; but who were very sweet actually, though with very little English) In his wake a sort of wave of squeeing went down the line...!
The photos were not a bit rushed – everyone was given time and there was no urgency. As we got closer we were amused to see that they were letting each person in and then shutting the door so no one could see what was going on. But we were seeing people as they came out – and they all had those huge, wide eyed smiles when they did and a look of complete amazement and a face full of James Fog. There were some tears of joy and so much squeeing. It was so lovely to see the James Effect is still as powerful as ever even on these beautiful young girls– the guy so still has it!
Jules went in ahead of me, but I did get to see the end of her hugging James as I was let in and she went past me grinning from ear to ear.I had to hand the guy my two photo op tickets but I wasn’t really concentrating as James finished watching Jules leave and turned his attention to who was next. When he saw it was me, his face lit up in a big surprised grin and he called “ROsieeeeeeee!” in a high excited voice, drawing my name out long. I was grinning fit to burst as I walked over to him and said “Hi James” I could not tell you who else was in that room right then, apart from the photographer as I only had eyes for the man in front of me. Beautiful, gorgeous James smiling at me, his blue eyes dancing with merriment as he looked me up and down and said I looked amazing (maybe it was my t shirt - that one does show my boobs off to great effect!) He offered me his hand to shake mine and then continuing to hold on to it to draw me in against him. He put his arm round my shoulders and then looked down to move me over to the taped mark on the floor as I was asking “Is it okay if I put my other arm round you?” as I always ask first. He was smiling as he replied “yeah, come on in, right in here”, turned his body towards me and pulled me in close up against him. Both arms went round my shoulders;he rested his cheek against the top of my head and then hugged me. Well – what else is a girl to do in that situation but return the hug and smile for the camera??The photo came out ok – not earth-shatteringly amazing or anything, just nice -but that doesn’t matter because what I remember is what it felt like being hugged by James when I look at it!
He looked surprised and said he thought I hadn’t and couldn’t believe it as I was looking great. “Are you working out? I replied “No - I really hate it!” to which he replied “you should take up running...” but he must have seen the look on my face (I don’t DO running!)because he then laughed, said “Only joking...” and then wrapped his arms round me and gave me another big squeezy hug. That was really awesome because it was him choosing to hug me, and those that are freely given are the best kind. He’s so lean and firm yet so incredibly cuddly – one of the most wonderful feelings in the world.
That was my time up so I thanked him as I let go and started to leave, but as often happens, James kept holding onto one of my arms, and as I moved away, slid his hand down it until he could take my hand and then kept holding on as I was leaving, so our hands were eventually reluctantly pulled apart whilst all the time he was looking into my eyes. I know he does it on purpose, but I don’t care cos it works! It makes you feel really special, that he doesn’t want to let you go and he holds on until the last possible moment. So I too came out of the room with a flushed face and grinning from ear to ear and on an obvious wave of bliss. Doesn’t matter how many times I have photos or autographs with James– he still makes me feel like a clumsy love struck teenager, falling over my words and acting like a complete dork – and I love it!
I've got some more written - its a miracle! So - here's Part Deux (See? - it's French cos we are in France! J'est practically bilingual!! )
Here is the first part of my Ramble from Paris. You may well notice the distinct lack of a certain person in this bit...!
So here is the second and final part of my ramble from the vampire ball - enjoy!