Category Archives: Shopping

The Traveller’s Guide to Cyprus

A very good evening to you all from Cyprus! Yes, the Lifestyle Support Guru has finally managed to get away on holiday – one can’t count recent visits to York, Huddersfield and Sheffield as ‘holidays’, since they are just classed as ‘moving around oop north for a day or two’, which are not really holidays at all.
This holiday started badly, I’m afraid – the alarm went off at 5.30am a couple of days ago! How can they even let that time exist? The day should always start at something like 8.30am and move sedately on to the evening, allowing for gentle pauses along the way for food and drink, or catching a plane. Nevertheless, younger siblings and I made it safely to the airport where next-sibling-down proceeded to consume a Belgian waffle with chocolate and cream at 7.30 in the morning. I managed a small cup of coffee. Youngest sibling went to the toilet.
But I am sure that you do not wish to read about such mundane happenings, even if they are part of the LSG’s fascinating life – I only tell you these things to make you realise that you, too, can be like the LSG: you may not have a sibling who will eat chocolate waffles at 7.30 in the morning, but you probably have a spouse, a better half, a rock, a soulmate, a child, a friend, a ‘hun, r u ok?’ – ANYONE! – who can fulfil this role. But I digress… having been here for three whole days, I am now an expert on how to blend seamlessly into Cypriot life so that you appear to be a native. So, here it is – the LSG’s Guide to Life as a Cypriot:
On the first morning, the siblings decide to walk down to the harbour but you decline because you have somehow forgotten to bring a small handbag for the evenings (those who know the LSG well will realise that this is an amazing oversight), so you say you will wander to a nearby shopping centre to see what they have to offer. The fact that the walk to the harbour would take up to an hour and the walk to the shops a mere ten minutes has NOTHING to do with this decision.
Imagine your surprise upon entering the shopping centre to find that the first shop is Marks and Spencer! (Actually, that’s a lie – the first shop was Holland and Barrett, but that isn’t classed as a SHOP as such, because how can one get pleasure out of buying vitamins?) You wander in (to M&S, of course, not H&B) – just out of curiosity, you understand – and ask an assistant if they have any small bags, at which point she looks sad and leads you to the ‘bag area’. She was right to look sad – there was a choice of TWO! In fact, two is not even a choice in my mind. She will try her best to sell you a beige bag, but your eye will have already been caught by a rather fetching lime green one. You can almost hear the assistant thinking, ‘We’ve been trying to sell those damn things all year.’ But the LSG is not one to follow the fashions and trends of ordinary people – oh no, if lime green takes her fancy, that is what she will get. AND a rather nice white t-shirt in the sale also happened to jump into the shopping bag – I will swear ON OATH that the same item wasn’t available in the Derby branch of M&S last week.
The next thing to do in your attempt to become a Greek Cypriot is to get a haircut – by a hairdresser from Bradford, of course. By now, no one will ever think you are anything other than a born-and-bred Cypriot, although you draw the line at joining the siblings in learning how to scuba dive…the LSG would not wish to cause any riots by appearing in public in a wetsuit.
A coach tour of the island is, of course, obligatory – especially one that mentions a visit to a winery. Unfortunately, we booked the wrong one and ended up on the tour that visited the church of the tomb of Saint Lazarus, he who was raised from the dead. I must admit to a little shiver down my spine when we went into the crypt and saw an open sarcophagus. I looked quickly around but could spot no obvious 2,000-year-old person loitering in the shadows looking like he’d just come back from the dead, although there are one or two at the hotel who could give a good impression of him.
We also passed the rock in the sea which is reputedly the birthplace of Aphrodite, the most beautiful woman ever known, although the LSG is giving her a good run for her money.
One good thing came out of the ‘raising the dead’ tour – a rather nice lemon hooded jacket jumped out at me in Larnaca (I like to think that Lazarus played a part here – I see him in lemon), just the thing for the evenings, which are still a little chilly – and a lovely contrast to the lime green bag. All that is needed now to make me look like a bowl of citrus fruit is a pair of orange trousers. There may have been some in Marks…
One final (sort of serious) point – Greek Cypriots are incredibly friendly and chatty, but if you say ‘kalimera/kalispera/efkharisto’ at some point, their faces light up with absolute joy!
The LSG is now fully immersed in Cypriot life and could be taken for a native.
The (Welsh) Brit Pack is here and living the dream! Kalenikta!

Making an exhibition of myself

A very good evening to you all from the Lifestyle Support Guru! I hope you have all been coping well with the snow and biting winds – don’t you just love a British spring? I have some sound advice for you tonight about visiting exhibitions and how to get the most out of them. I have recently been to two very different exhibitions and I believe that I learned valuable lessons from both. The visits were made as a result of the male siblings’ interests, since one doesn’t come across many exhibitions about my own interests, specifically ‘A hundred ways to prepare a Pot Noodle’ and ‘Cork or screwtop? A wine drinker’s dilemma.’

Photo by Artiom Vallat on Unsplash

The first exhibition was to do with properties abroad, with a view to avoiding the British winter, although that becomes more and more difficult as the years go by because the British winter now seems to last from August to June. This was perhaps the most fun of the two because I simply stood next to youngest sibling and said nothing. (This was, in fact, quite difficult because, as the LSG, I feel it almost essential to offer my valuable advice whenever I think it necessary, which is most of the time. I think this may be the reason that next-youngest sibling always allows youngest sibling to sit in the front of the car when I’m driving, with the words, ‘I’d like some peace and quiet.’) Anyway, I digress. My silence clearly disconcerted the exhibitors because they kept trying to make eye contact with me and include me in their conversation; they are obviously not used to a woman standing saying nothing, just nodding occasionally. I smiled mysteriously at times and at one exhibitor’s stand I actually said, ‘I’m his minder.’ Strangely, they didn’t look surprised – more scared, if anything. We came away with several brochures and a cotton carrier bag which I shall use for dirty laundry when I go on holiday.

The second exhibition was a photography one, which is one of next-youngest sibling’s interests. Unfortunately, when he first said it was a camera exhibition, I misunderstood and thought he said a CAMRA exhibition and I had visions of quaffing lots of pleasant real ales. This was, sadly, not to be, but it was too late to change my mind because he’d already booked tickets. Once we arrived, I told next-youngest sibling to wander off on his own because I didn’t think ‘camera people’ would have the same approach to a silent, smiling bystander as ‘holiday people’ – they would be more likely to take a photo of me and enter it in some ‘Photo of the Year’ competition and win because of the compellingly distinguished features of the LSG.
I headed straight for the nearest coffee outlet since it was still very early in the morning (about 10.15) and I’d only had one coffee instead of my usual two. I then wandered around some of the stands, but could find none selling handbags or linen tops, both of which are high on my list of ‘things I love’, along with Pot Noodles, Pukka Pies, prosecco and frozen peas, so, losing interest, I went for another coffee. It was only on the way out of the exhibition that I spotted a stand that might have some interest for me – leather bags!
Sadly, they had a slightly strange design meant only to carry cameras and their accessories, not a mobile phone; a diary; a fat purse; a Kindle Fire; a little foldup stand for aforementioned Kindle; a little pouch which holds a mobile charger, a power lead, several different connectors, earphones and a USB lead; a Murray Mint; a little notebook; several pens; some money-off vouchers for Majestic Wines; a comb, and a couple of spare contact lenses. We came away with two carrier bags, neither of which will be suitable for dirty laundry and will simply sit in the house while I try to think of what to do with them.

So, there you have it, dear devotees – exhibitionism can enliven your life!

Supermarket Sweep – A Little Quiz

A very good evening from the Lifestyle Support Guru! Tonight, I am going to ask you a few questions that will help you work out your place in society. Clearly, as the LSG, I know exactly where I stand – my place in the very top tier of society is assured as I rub shoulders with kings and queens, princes and princesses, film stars; however, I am equally at home with those of a more rough-hewn nature – teachers, pub landlords, coach drivers, those people who are the salt of the earth!
The questions are based on my own experiences, as always, since I would never ask you to judge yourselves unless I had judged myself first – of course, I came out as a model citizen. The rest of you may find it a little more difficult to reach such a pinnacle, but you must always strive, even if you are unlikely to match me – that is something that only a very, very, very small number (in fact, probably none) will ever achieve.
Anyway, on with the quiz:
1. You are in a supermarket (let’s say Morrison’s; other supermarkets are available, but they had the best beer offer that day) with your sibling, and have stocked up on basics – beer, wine and chocolate – and you head for the nearest (and shortest) queue and unload your trolley. An old couple joins the queue immediately behind you and you can see that the female half of the couple is looking at you and your sibling in a rather angry manner, tutting and shaking her head (the male half is looking increasingly embarrassed). (Sibling hasn’t noticed any of this – he is too busy looking lovingly at his chocolate, wondering if he can open the (very large) packet of Maltesers before you’ve got through the checkout.) You wonder what is making this old woman so cross – maybe she thinks you haven’t got a proper, balanced diet in your trolley. Silly old woman! You then realise that you have accidentally joined the ‘Ten Items, Express Checkout’ queue, which is why this old bag is so incensed – you have TWELVE items in your trolley! Do you:
a) Apologise profusely to the hag and start loading the items back into your trolley so that you can go to another queue?
b) Apologise profusely to the ancient hag but stay where you are because you’re next at the checkout and reloading your trolley would take more time than going through the checkout?
c) Apologise to the checkout assistant and say you’ll move to another queue?
The obvious answer is c) because the checkout assistant has noticed this seriously deranged female monster becoming more and more angry over something incredibly petty. She says – loudly and often and with a smile – that, since there are two of you, you are allowed TWENTY items on her till and, even if you weren’t allowed that many, TWELVE items is hardly a hanging crime (well, not in the UK… yet).
2. You are on the committee of a local group that is trying to raise funds for an event in the summer (Fashion Show, May 4th; Picnic on the Green, July 8th) and you have been asked (or maybe you volunteered – my memory blurs) to find out which supermarket does the best offer on boxes of wine for the Fashion Show (did I mention it’s on May 4th?). Do you:
a) Go straight to a price comparison website for supermarkets?
b) Go straight to the Tesco website?
c) Go straight to the Waitrose website?
If you chose a) or b), then you are a reasonably balanced individual (Tesco seems to have reined in its ambitions to rule the world for now, so I am happy to look at their website, even if I can’t quite bring myself to go into the actual store). However, if you chose c), you need to reassess your understanding of ‘society’ – ‘Waitrose’ and ‘box of wine’ do NOT go together. It may be that you need to see a counsellor to understand that we are NOT ‘all in this together’, or at least not as far as Waitrose is concerned when its ‘essentials’ range includes avocado, sirloin steak and tortilla wraps. Looking for a wine box in Waitrose is like looking for a photo of a fully-clothed Kim Kardashian – it just isn’t going to happen!
Two questions are enough to cope with for now – challenges should be realistic and present goals that can be reached and I believe that these two offer enough to consider for the moment. Coming soon – a moral dilemma involving Wagamama. Sleep well, Faithful Followers!

Quizzical

A very good evening to you, beloved believers, as I sit and listen to possibly the worst karaoke version of ‘Killing Me Softly’ I have ever heard in my life.
It seems so LONG since I last offered any advice on living life to the full and I realise some of you may be wondering if my inspiration has dried up and if you will have to search elsewhere for another guru to guide you through life’s thickets and tangled undergrowth. FEAR NOT! I have been a little busy of late – shopping, lunch, shopping, lunch, visit to Doncaster, shopping, lunch, shopping, lunch, visit to Oldbury (near Birmingham), shopping… you get the idea. Actually, I had written a piece for you on being pretentious in a taxi, but I can’t find it now, so that will have to be for another time.
As you know, I have a vague, passing interest in quizzes, but FEAR NOT! I am not about to test you on your knowledge of geography or sport or the first ten presidents of the USA (although I am sure there are those among you who actually know this! Why?). No, I am going to ask you to contemplate the responses of a team of bright young things in a recent quiz at my local. Actually, when I say ‘bright young things’, I’m lying – one of those words is incorrect, but I leave it to you to decide which one.

quizzical

And FEAR NOT! I am not going to spend time bemoaning the dismal lack of knowledge of today’s generation, as so many others do. That is unfair to those who do have a wide-ranging general knowledge as well as a good understanding of politics, economics, history, philosophy, literature, maths, socio-economics, business, psychology, chiropody, finance, neurosurgery, rocket science…

Here we go:
Questionmaster: What is a John Dory?
Bright Young Things: A tandoori? It’s an oven; yes, put down ‘oven’. They use it in Indian restaurants. Tandoori chicken, that sort of thing.

Q: Who is the patron saint of animals?
BYT: Anoraks? Patron saint of anoraks?
Another BYT: No, it was ‘patron saint of adenoids’. I’m sure it was. Who’s the patron saint of adenoids?
Another BYT: What are adenoids?

Q: The giant panda is the symbol of which organisation?
BYT: Chinese panda? It’d be the symbol of China. Yes, put China.

Q: What are the first three words in the Bible?
BYT: I know, I know – Book of Genesis! (You can’t fault the logic here!)

Before you accuse me of making fun of a group of BYT with hearing difficulties (as if I would!), let me explain that the reason they didn’t hear some of the questions correctly was because they were constantly talking, even when the questions were being asked. Needless to say, they didn’t do very well, but FEAR NOT! They had a jolly good time and found it hilarious (and not unexpected) that they came last.
As they were leaving the pub, one of them was still asking who the patron saint of adenoids was and another was saying, ‘No, no; anoraks, not adenoids.’

Sleep well, dearest devotees. May your dreams be free of anoraks and adenoids (unless you’re Philip K Dick, in which case, you may dream of ‘android sheep’!). 😁

Confessions of a party animal

Mistake?

I have to own up to almost making a complete and utter fool of myself this coming weekend. Yes, even the Lifestyle Support Guru (or, as one friend called me, the Life Support Guru, which may be closer to the truth…) can make mistakes, but it only shows just how close I am to being human (subhuman, perhaps?).

I have been invited to a party on Saturday, an event to which I am looking forward immensely (since I don’t get invited to that many these days). I have been planning my outfit (casually elegant, elegantly casual or maybe just jeans and trainers à la Llandudno) and working out what time I should arrive to have the maximum impact, or rather, depending on what time the buses run.

This morning I went to see the friend who is throwing the party and the conversation eventually meandered round to the ‘do’, via discussions about bird tables, raspberries, dead cats and other such riveting subjects. I said I hoped to get there about 8 o’clock and the conversation then went something like this:

Friend: EIGHT o’clock? But it starts at ONE!
Me: ONE??
F: Yes, 1-6 pm. You did get the invitation, didn’t you?
M: Yes, but I was so excited when I got it that I didn’t read the whole thing and I just assumed it was an evening do.
F: No, any time from 1 o’clock onwards, with a ‘relaxed’ finish about 6.
M: Oh, thank goodness I called in today! I was aiming to get here for about eight on Saturday, all ready to party!
F: You’d only have found us lying around recovering from the afternoon’s festivities.
M: I’d have looked a right fool, wouldn’t I?
F: We probably wouldn’t have noticed by that stage!

You can just picture it, can’t you? Me turning up on the doorstep with a big smile on my face, only to find that all the alcohol has been drunk and the hosts are nodding gently on the sofa, slippers on, cocoa in hand, ‘Casualty’ on the television . Aaaaargh!!!!

Take some advice from a former teacher who should know better – ALWAYS read the instructions!!!

I now have to plan a completely different outfit for an afternoon shindig, rather than an elegantly casual/casually elegant evening outfit. Oh dear, I may have to go shopping…