I’ve just gotten back from iDate Miami, and it was a blast.  Not only did I attend the conference, but I also attended this year’s iDate awards and also the cruise after.  More on them later though.  The conference was January 25th-27th with the cruise leaving on the 28th and arriving back on February 1st.  Before any of this though, I had to go to London to do a TV interview.

My original plan was to leave at around 1:30am on the 25th and get a bus direct to the airport, then fly out on the 9:00am flight.  An email from a production company I’d recently spoken to changed that when they asked if I’d be willing to arrive a day earlier to do some filing with the promise they’d book me a hotel room for the night right by the airport.  No big deal, so I agreed.  With new plans, I set off at around 9:30am on the 24th, got to the bus station in plenty of time to catch my ride and settled in for the journey.  It took about 4.5 hours before I arrived at Heathrow airport before jumping in a taxi to the airport in plenty of time to meet the interviewer and camera person.  Unfortunately there was a snag.  The room had been booked, but not paid for.  I had very little UK currency on me as I’d changed it all to dollars ready for the trip.  One call later, their office were trying to work out the issue and promised to call me right back.  In all fairness, 10 minute later I had a call back and the issue was resolved.  It turned out to have been a spelling mistake on the booking form.  I was asked to wait a few minutes while this was fixed and had barely sat down when the reporter turned up.  Introductions barely over, the lady from the desk came over with my room key and we jumped in the lift to the room.

The room was fairly small.  Perfectly adequate to sleep in for the night, but somewhat restrictive for doing a TV interview.  What people must have thought as they saw me with 2 women and a whole bunch of camera equipment going into a hotel room I can only imagine.  The beds were movable, so we pushed one one way and the other at a 90 degree angle to free up some space for filming.  Filming itself was pretty standard, and followed the routine I’ve done many times before.  Basically, they ask me questions, then ask for me to show the scam being done.  After that, they ask the same questions and I repeat my answers, but this time being filmed from a different angle.  A few close ups on my hand moving the mouse, typing and on the laptop screen itself as I scroll pages up and down finished the session and everything was done.  They left and I went to get myself a beer before settling down for the night.  I had to be up at 6am, so two alarms were set to be sure.  The last thing I needed now was to oversleep and miss my flight.

The shuttle buses to the airport didn’t start until 7am, so I took a walk to the bus depot and jumped on a bus to Heathrow.  Actually, I had a slight detour as someone’s car broke down right in front of me as I was checking my satnav for directions to the bus depot and I helped try to jump start it.  No luck unfortunately, so we pushed it off the road out of the way so that they could call a breakdown company.

I arrived at Heathrow in plenty of time and settled down waiting for the flight.  Netflix came to the rescue in keeping me occupied while I waited, the same way it kept me busy on the bus journey the day before.  Finally my plane arrives, I board and just over 9 hours later we’re touching down in Miami where I’m greeted by Big Al.  He’s flown down to pick me up, spend a few days visiting an old friend and then rejoin me on the cruise.  We go off to the hire company’s building to collect the car he’s booked, get a free upgrade to a larger car and set off for the hotel.  I’m staying at the Deauville beach resort, and the conference itself is at the Kovens conference center.  Free buses have been laid on to take people to and from the conference, but I won’t be using them until the next day.  BA parks the car while I book in.  At this point I should really thank Marc Lesnick, the conference organizer.  Not only has he given me a chance to speak at the conference, but he’s given me a free ticket to the awards ceremony and also paid my flight and hotel for the time I’m there.  There’s no way I would have been able to attend otherwise.  Remember, we’re not making any money from doing this, and he’s fully aware of that fact.  The room itself is huge, almost twice the size of the room I’d spent the previous night in.  It also has an amazing view of both the street outside and the beach.  A number of people have complained about the rooms there, but I have to say I had no problems.  I guess I was lucky – or more easily impressed.  BA also gives me a present he’s been promising me – a 6 pack of Strongbow honey.  We don’t have that in the UK yet, and after trying it, I’m desperately hoping it does turn up here sooner rather than later.  The room has a fridge, so they get popped in there for later.  We go off for something to eat before he sets off on his 3 hour drive.  At this point I let my wife know I’m safely at the airport and get to bed, ready for the conference the next day.  It’s only 8am, but my head is still on UK time, so for me it’s 1am and I’m ready to drop.  I turn the AC up to full, and as soon as my head hits the pillow I’m asleep.

Next time I’ll talk about the conference itself.