lifestylesupportguru

humour for the not so graceful getting older

Tag: travel

Lost in Translation

A very good evening, Beloved Believers! Tonight, I wish to talk about the difficulties of understanding others. Of course, I don’t mean ‘understanding’ in the sense of ‘empathising with’ – as I am the LSG, empathy is something I leave to ordinary mortals, who need to ‘feel your pain’ or ‘walk in your shoes’ (not for me, unless they’re Christian Louboutin’s, daaahlings … And NEVER Crocs!). No, this is about understanding people talking to you, even though you haven’t left these shores for foreign climes.
I have come to terms with understanding Scottish accents – as long as I can catch every third word, I’m fine – I make up the rest. Northern Irish is similar – ‘hyevva’, as pronounced by an NI BBC reporter is, in fact, ‘however’, so I can work from that. North Welsh still defeats me at times, especially since they have different words for the same things – for example, ‘girl’ in North Welsh is ‘hogan’ (both singular and plural), but ‘merch’ (merched, plural) in the South; ‘boy’ is ‘hogyn’ (both singular and plural) or ‘bachgen’ (bechgyn, plural). ‘Now’ is ‘nawr’ (South) and ‘rwan’ (North). How does that work, other than backwards??
Hyevva, the one that defeats me is the Black Country – Debbie, Rob, is there a phrase book that you haven’t told me about? The (male) siblings and I visited the Black Country Living Museum the other day and were flummoxed right from the start, although, agreeably, the initial lack of understanding led to us all being admitted at ‘Concessions’ price (even though only one of us qualified) simply because older sibling didn’t understand what he was being asked and just smiled and said ‘Yes’, while younger sibling and I stood behind him looking old.
We moved on to the main entrance where we were greeted by a gentleman – dressed as a 19th-century pit supervisor (I’m using my imagination here) – who asked us a question which none of us understood, so we said, ‘Pardon?’ and he repeated the question. The LSG, making the most of her linguistic abilities, understood the word ‘rent’, replied ‘Yes’, smiled, showed our tickets and we were allowed in. Thereafter, we made sure we engaged in no further conversation, even avoiding the 19th-century pub in case we were expected to converse and ended up with a pint of gin! (Actually, now I come to think of it …)
The visit was extremely enjoyable, and I would recommend it to all and sundry, but just don’t expect to hold lengthy conversations with anyone (unless they’re ‘proper’ foreign!).

Today’s experience was somewhat different. I decided to go along to the city library, which has moved from the beautiful, old Central Library building to the refurbished Council House – beautiful on the outside, rather clashingly modern on the inside – to borrow a book I didn’t want to buy on Kindle (i.e. too expensive!). The conversation went like this:
Helper: Hello, can I help you?
Me: Yes, it’s my first visit here. Where will I find books by Victoria Hislop?
H: ‘Hislop’. Does that begin with an ‘E’?
Stunned silence on my part.
Me: No, ‘aitch’.
H: Ah, ‘haitch’.
I maintained a dignified silence. The book (The Return) wasn’t in stock. I will have to go through this again next week…

I am dedicating this to CJ Jones, who died suddenly today – she was one of the LSG’s most dedicated supporters and she would have loved this, especially the Welsh bits! Sleep well, CJ.

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!

Top Travel Tips For Turkey

International Travel

As many of you know, the Lifestyle Support Guru is an intrepid explorer, offering travel advice on such far-flung places as Huddersfield, Halifax and Hull. This evening, my advice will be about Turkey, home of delights such as…Turkish Delight!

I am here on a mercy mission because DOT (Dai of Turkey) has been taken ill and it was decided that the quickest way to help him recover was to send me out…

Top International Travel Tips

So, what advice can I offer you, my Faithful Followers (FFS for short)? Follow these Top Travel Tips and you will not go far wrong:
1. Do not assume that Turkey will be hot and sunny – this is what you will be told when you check the long-range weather forecast, but this is simply to lull you into a false sense of security so that you only equip yourself with light clothing, a pair of sandals and no raincoat. (I am a little cross that youngest sibling didn’t force me to take at least one jacket – what’s the point of a youngest sibling who doesn’t tell you to cover all eventualities?) When the downpour starts, as it does most days – but not at the same time every day, just to fool you further – you will find that the only protection from the rain that you have is a toffee-coloured mini-umbrella with a pattern of cute cartoon cats all over it, found at the back of a cupboard in sick sibling’s apartment (no, I haven’t asked). Much as I love cats, I do not necessarily wish to be seen carrying an umbrella covered in them!
2. Travel in the capital of Turkey is easy – as long as you are not easily frightened. Taxi drivers (of which there are many) have two speeds – 100 mph and ‘BRAKE’!!! You will also find that, on the whole, seat belts are there purely for decoration – I think I have found only one taxi so far where you could actually clip the belt in securely. I have developed a technique of using one hand to hold the seat belt across my body – which would serve no purpose at all in an accident – whilst clinging on to the handle above the window with my other hand. Not pretty, but it makes me feel better!
3. Learn a little Turkish (and believe me, when I say ‘a little’, I mean ‘a little’ – you would need a lifetime to get past the basics, fascinating though it is to listen to the language). A little goes a long way and I have particularly impressed local people with my mastery of ‘Thank you very much’ – Teşekkűr ederim, pronounced something like ‘teshkweredereem’. (Do not try this at home unless you are closely supervised.) It has brought a big smile to people’s faces whenever I’ve used it (in fact, the cleaner nearly collapsed laughing when I first tried it), although I am a little concerned that I may be putting the emphasis in the wrong place and I am actually telling people, ‘I am leaving you all my money when I die.’

I think that’s enough for the first lesson, but look out for ‘the tale of the confused taxi driver’ and ‘making friends with the hospital lift attendant’, along with ‘guided tours of the hospital departments a speciality’. That’s all still to come!

Tips for a Top Christmas

A very merry Christmas to all my Faithful Followers (FFs), Delightful Devotees (DDs) and Beloved Believers (BBs) – this sounds rather like a bra advert! – who, as I write, will be in the middle of preparing for the festive jollities and may well be feeling somewhat stressed. I am here to offer some information on how I am preparing for the days ahead in the hope that you may be able to use some of this information in future years, since I fear that it may be too late for this year.
1. Take the cats to their holiday home and feel a little sad that they seem to settle in very quickly and may have already forgotten you before you have even left the building. However, the plus side is that you can now pack your suitcase without having to check every ten minutes that one of them hasn’t sneaked inside.
2. As you are returning home, you decide to call in at Sainsbury’s for something to eat, since you have very little in the fridge, apart from a couple of old slices of low calorie corned beef (see an earlier post for information on low calorie corned beef), some Brie and a rather smelly Stilton (thinks – ‘but I do have a bottle of port that would go nicely with the Stilton…’) and you are completely out of Pot Noodles. The car park is so busy that they have attendants guiding you to parking spaces and you are pointed towards a tiny space between an estate car and a large Freelander which has, of course, parked over the white line between spaces (this is a privilege reserved for those who own unnecessarily large cars that they can’t park properly). Even with the LSG’s tiny car and superlative parking ability, you realise that this is going to be more than just a tight squeeze and that you will not be able to get out of the car even if you manage to park it, so you drive off and find your own parking space, well away from any spatially-challenged 4×4 owners.
3. Decide that you will have the Sainsbury’s Christmas Lunch Special, since, in your mind, you can still hear your mother saying, ‘You’ve got to have turkey and sprouts at least once at Christmas.’ (inside, you are still a child crying, ‘Why?’, but you do as your mother tells you). Whilst waiting for the festive feast, you peruse a copy of the Daily Mail and realise that you are living in a different world from the Mail’s, where anger, rage and disgust seem to be the default emotions. I always feel as if I have been slapped across the backs of my hands with a wooden ruler after reading this fine example of unbiased, open-minded, British journalism.
Eat three Brussels sprouts (two more than usual) in penance.
4. Get home and realise that you STILL haven’t written many Christmas cards and that any you may write now will not arrive in time for Christmas (especially since you haven’t got any stamps either), so it looks as if you may have to send them late and include one of those dreaded Round Robin letters explaining why your card is so late – would they believe it if you said that you had been helping out at a homeless shelter or delivering food parcels to lonely old people? No, I didn’t think so, either.
5. There is only one thing to do to rescue you from sinking into a deep depression (other than going to the pub, of course – that will come later…) – check in online for your forthcoming holiday to a warm and sunny destination where you can sit and sip a chilled glass of white Rioja as you are soothed by the sound of the sea gently lapping in the background and contemplate everyone else having to listen to ‘Mistletoe and Wine’ for the 100th time (although you know you may tire of ‘Feliz Navidad’ after a little while).
6. Send email to siblings to apologise for not sending Christmas cards, but explain that you have been helping out at a homeless shelter and delivering food parcels to lonely old people.

Have a lovely Christmas, everyone!

Oop North at Halifax

The Lifestyle Support Guru is on a quest to introduce you to places you should visit before you die and Halifax is on the list. ‘Why Halifax?’ you ask. ‘Why not?’ I reply. There is, in fact, a very mundane explanation – I don’t like leaving the cats for more than 24 hours without some human interaction (it’s called ‘cleaning out the litter tray’), so somewhere within a 2-hour drive is ideal. And I like going ‘oop north’ – it’s another country! In fact, it’s another world!

Sheffield

Sheffield

The first thing that took me by surprise (just after Sheffield, which is where I consider ‘the North’ starts) was passing an Audi driver on the motorway who was in the nearside lane, even though there was plenty of space in the other three lanes. I have never seen this before although, sadly, I didn’t see any Volvo, Merc or BMW drivers following this brilliant example.
The satnav was set to take me to Halifax via the excellently-named Netherthong – how can you not go to a place with such a wonderful name? – so imagine my delight when I found there was an Upperthong as well! When I got out of the car at the top of a very steep hill in Upperthong to greet TOFU (Trefor of ‘Ull), I could fully understand why you would need both upper AND nether thongs (and preferably fur-lined) – the wind was a tad chilly in all quarters.
Having visited Barnsley on a Bank Holiday weekend, TOFU and I were not completely taken by

hot cocoa

hot cocoa

surprise in Halifax because it’s very similar – there’s just more of it. TOFU remarked that we seemed to have arrived ‘late to the party’ at 8 in the evening. One young lady on the dance floor in the first pub we entered had obviously consumed more than the recommended number of alcohol units and another young lady was more interested in watching her own boobs jiggle about as she sat bouncing to the music. Personally, I find a cup of hot cocoa more enthralling.
The next pub had karaoke in full swing when we walked in – ‘Kingston Town’ sung by Halifax’s answer to Orville is something that will stay with me for a long time, along with the young man dancing next to our table displaying a ‘Top Man’ waistband on his underpants. If you must

men's underwear

boxer shorts

display where you buy your underpants, at least go with fake Calvin Kleins, daaahlings.
We then headed to the nearest Wetherspoon’s, even though we knew we would have to spend a long time waiting to get served by staff who have never learned to smile. (I have only ever been in one Wetherspoon’s pub where I was greeted civilly, served quickly and with a smile – and that was because she was an ex-pupil!) However, the pull of a pub without techno-trance dance music or karaoke sung by Orville was, I have to say, irresistible.

There is some class in Halifax – TOFU heard one young woman ask for a bottle of rosé… with a

Joie de Vivre

Joie de Vivre

pint glass. His immortal comment, however, once we were seated, was ‘There’s a lot more flesh on display than perhaps there should be,’ as yet another person in shorts/hot pants passed us. I replied that that was perhaps why the textile industry failed in this area because people don’t wear enough of it. No fashion judgements were being made, you understand.
The night ended with that famous quote: “When a man is tired of Halifax, he is tired of life; for there is in Halifax all that life can afford.” ‘Who said that?’ asked TOFU. ‘Boris Johnson,’ I replied.

And the next stop on the LSG’s world tour? Who knows? Suggestions are welcome – as long as it’s within a 90-mile radius of Derby so that I can carry out my litter-cleaning duties!

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