• Stephanie Ashton

Falling Stars

Sunset Strippers, 2005

This blog is all about last weekends trip to Birmingham. Be warned, this post is overloaded with pictures!

So how many of my dear readers love airports? I suspect the answer could very few indeed. Would it be too far to suggest that these infernal places of waiting and officious security could even have been invented by the devil in the same seven days that god created the world? Okay, I admit I may have gone too far, but it portrays my general feelings towards the mundane aspects of modern-day travel. And yet, I have just breezed through another airport for the umpteenth time this year and without a care in the world. So how had I reached such a state of complete indifference for the long cues and oddly angry people contained within? Easy; the Stephanie glass of happiness had been filled to the brim once again.

The cause for this happiness was a brilliant weekend in Birmingham, United Kingdom. The entire weekend was inspired by my friend Alison when she invited me to join herself and her friends for a Saturday night out on the town. When I accepted the invite, I simply had no idea how I would make it fit, yet I was determined to go and once again it felt like fate was driving me. Maybe it was because ironically, Alison is someone I should know much better as we were both around in Manchester at the same time many moons ago. And yet, we had not had the opportunity to become acquainted as we moved in different circles. The genetic girls I hung out with would only tolerate Canal Street early in the evenings before insisting on going 'boy hunting' somewhere with house music and cheap flavoured vodka. All the joys of the '90s huh?

So, once again I set off on another adventure. It was the normal trek from Denmark to the UK with checked-in luggage at exactly 23kgs and a full roll on case to take on-board the aircraft. Due to running my schedule for this trip hard up against work commitments, I had to fly in boy mode this time which, frankly, is a bit of a drag if you will pardon the irony. In addition to feeling much more comfortable in my skin, travelling in girl mode has real benefits in that I can wear or carry many of the heavier items allowing myself to pack more dresses and shoes to choose from at my destination. Last weekend however, I was in boy mode and as I lugged the suitcase to the check-in it amused me that yet again boy-me works harder for Steffie than he did for any former genetic female partner. It must be love.

Could this be the love of my life? Okay, time to see my shrink again...

Much to my delight, all the boring mundane travel stuff happened without incident. Normal Danish efficiency got me to the airport on time, and even the highly unreliable KLM flight connection worked perfectly without having to "do an Anna" and run the entire length of Schipol in under 10 minutes. Landing in Birmingham, I cleared the airport in a staggering 20 minutes, hopped in a cab and was checked into my room at 10:20. Perfect timing to get ready and go out and hit the town. I am in no way claiming that others can repeat this feat, but Birmingham was indeed starting to look like a great option when compared to trials and tribulations of crossing London, for example.

Following a quick shower, shave and make-up slapped on, I was ready for a night out with the gorgeous and seemingly nuclear powered Yjselle. This wonderful bubbly force of nature arrived at my hotel room door at 11:00 and we immediately got on like a house on fire. I suspect we could chat each other to death and we proceeded to give it a good go over the next hour and a half.

Steffie...plugged into Yjselle to get a recharge from her boundless supply of happiness and positive energy!

Visiting the normal Birmingham haunts, we ended up in Missing where we immediately hit the dance floor, getting dragged into a group of girls which was fun. Having now been on the go for 18 hours my feet and head were starting to object to dancing so I left Yjselle bopping on the dance floor and ventured to the outside seating area. No sooner had I got a drink in hand than a lovely girl was telling me how lovely I looked. I was quickly sucked into a group of wonderful peeps who were all lovely and insisted on joining me as friends on Facebook. The modern world huh!

Oooh that's cheeky!

The gang moved on and I found Yjselle whereupon we sat down to chat and have one more drink for the road. As we did so, the funniest blond bombshell I have ever met plonked herself down next to me and proceeded to tell me about her woes in finding a decent man. In addition to being the best dressed girl there she was simply hilarious. It was not lost on me either that I was enjoying myself with this young lady partly because she had the same direct and deprecating humour as my Brummy ex-girlfriend. Fortunately, that is where the similarities ended as myself and my new friend parted company with smiles and well wishes. Yes, sadly the night had come to an end, Yjselle bounced off home and for myself it was back to the hotel to get cleaned, jump into my giraffe PJs, and hit the hay.

By lunchtime on Saturday I was once again in Yjselles company, this time sitting together in the restaurant in Selfridges at the Bullring. I felt quite at liberty sipping on Prosecco and chatting with Yjselle at length as I had spent the morning shopping for a prom dress. The conversation was light-hearted and fortunately did not dwell long on my shopping failures as our food promptly arrived which was the cause of much laughter. We had been talking so much we had completely failed to realise that the main orders came with nothing except sauce. Another blond moment.

Popping out to shops (handbag out of shot!)

I can well imagine that for many of my dear readers it may appear that my tgirl life is complete sweetness and light, everything is peachy, and that my shopping trips are always a wonderful adventure. Well I can assure you that is not the case. Let me paint a more factual picture of my Saturday shopping expedition. Two hours of overheating in shop changing rooms had yielded zero results in finding a prom dress I liked. Instead I ended up looking at shoes and spent 30 minutes chatting with a lovely Scottish sales assistant in Jimmy Choos who also promptly became another new friend for Steffie.

Having had no success with the prom dress I now allowed myself to be led me astray in to buying even more shoes and dresses because after all, 50+ pairs of shoes and over 300 dresses is not enough already right?! So now completely off track, I ended up trying on three dresses in Debenhams with very mixed results. All three dresses should have been nice on, but the middle one shown below was so bad I nearly gave up any notion of ever being a woman then and there. I think my face in the picture says it all! Could I have picked anything to make me look fatter?!

Left shot - Nice lacy number. Right shot - Not my thing but ok. Middle dress - I need to re-evaluate my life because this is hideous

Having completely failed at buying a prom dress but lots of other things instead, I went back to the hotel to drop off my haul. On the way back to the hotel it was now very crowded, and the amusing thought struck me that to go out in daytime like this dressed...well it takes some balls, right? Oh dear.

Back at the hotel I decided to have a short disco nap before repairing my make-up and making myself presentable for the evening. For this trip I had set off with minimal make-up and no more eye shadow than the Urban Decay mini "Born to Run" palette. A high-risk strategy some might think, but this palette totally rocks. I must admit to being in a love affair with Urban Decay (UD) and NARS at present. Wearing make-up most days my skin takes a lot of punishment, yet between Clarins moisturiser, and UD/NARs products my skin does not look too bad for an old bird.

So, having sorted out my make-up again, it was time to head out and meet the ladies at the Loft. I knew when I left the hotel that my customary legs out approach was sure to attract attention (yes, and what is wrong with that?!) but in truth I was more conscious that I was wearing my suede heels with bad weather forecast for that evening. Hmmm, how would this turn out?

So off I set from my hotel to get money from the nearest ATM. Teetering along the street at rush hour as people are going home from work and heading on a night out, I did get quite a lot of attention as it turned out. One gentlemen whose head did an entire 180 degree turn watching me go down the street got a nice wave for his support lol

Once I had money in hand I set off for the Loft and soon found myself arriving moments behind Alison and Jen. It is a strange thing in life but sometimes you just click with people and from the first moment I met these wonderful girls I just knew they were aces. With my trademark Pornstar Martini in hand we proceeded to have nice chats and the other ladies shortly arrived to fill out our group. A very pleasant atmosphere was soon established over our little group and I was feeling right at home.

Alison and Steffie @ the Loft

After switching bar we became somewhat more lively, in part assisted by drinks and cameras being presented. Oh yes, point a camera at even the most miserable tgirl on the planet, and she will automatically snap into a pose with a radiant smile. We proceeded to have a great laugh taking pictures, myself pouting ridiculously and Alison and Jen shooting some creative pictures with assistance of nice mirrors hanging on the walls.

Wonderful friends

A shameless Selfie I took at the bar

Beautiful people and Steffie ;D

Despite the obviously torrential rain outside we would need to leave the safety of the dry pub we occupied as we were ladies on a mission; the fabulous Mary Mac was performing at the Eden club and we were determined to go and see her in action. As I watched someone being blown down the street soaked to the skin, my earlier suspicions that I had made a poor decision regarding my footwear was confirmed. My poor suede shoes!

Finding myself first outside the door, I adopted the trick I was taught "when I was a girl" and dutifully put my lovely faux fur black jacket over my head to protect my hair before taking off down the street as fast as I dared. I can imagine I was a sight to behold as no women looks at her best when darting along the street in the same fashion as someone in a war zone trying not to get shot. Fortunately, we all survived the journey and soon had drinks in hand as we waited for Mary Mac to come on stage.

Wonderful Friends - Jen, Alison and Emma

Beautiful picture Alison took of Jen and myself

Later that evening when I got back to the hotel and was stretched out in the bath, my only thoughts were of pure delight and happiness for the evening past. Mary Mac was amazing and put on a display quite like nothing I have ever seen before. But that was only one part of the happiness in my mind. No, I was basking in the warm after glow of having a brilliant time with like minded people.

All the ladies had made me feel so welcome and had been so kind throughout the night. It is only fair to say that I was genuinely touched meeting Alison and Jen; partly because I got an insight into their wonderful friendship, but it was also special to have met people who instantly understood me and shared similar views on all things to do with this life. Whilst it is true that all dressers are unique with their own end destinations, it is very touching when we meet kindred spirits on the same road as ourselves. For me it was like being a war veteran meeting other who had fought somewhere else on the same battlefields.

Alison and Steffie. So happy to meet kindred spirits

When I went to check out of the hotel the following day it became apparent that I had become a person of interest in the hotel. The hotel receptionists smiled at me knowingly having seen me in the early hours as Steffie. And once again, just like in Shoreditch last month, the hotel doorman was way too excited by the prospect of Steffie. Given that the doorman was much smaller than boy-me, I found it quite amusing and touching that he insisted on lifting 'madames' cases into the taxi. But there is a serious point to this final ditty; I am a humble sort in truth and enjoy having fun but do not like being put on a pedestal of any sort, not even in the manner just described. I am just a slightly gender confused person trying to enjoy myself and progress towards transitioning in a sensible manner. And then it struck me why I really liked my new friends so much; because they were all equally grounded and down to earth regardless of how others may perceive them on social media.

Final Remarks

As I sat in the taxi on the way to airport with the M6 rushing past, I concluded Emma’s recommendation about Birmingham was absolutely right. Turns out that chick knows what she is talking about.

And finally, why did I choose the sunset strippers cover of Falling Stars as the tittle for this post...watch the video and find out. Question is...which girl do you want to be, waiting for the stars to fall?

Blessed to be with so many lovely ladies