Category: Holidays

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!

Living The High Life!



A very good evening from the Lifestyle Support Guru.
I had considered giving some advice on avoiding little old ladies in pubs who whisper, ‘Can I ask for your advice?’, as happened to me about 30 minutes ago – as it turned out, she wanted to know what she should do about a rucksack she had found at a bus stop on her way home from the pub the other night. The police no longer accept lost property, so she said; I suggested getting in touch with the bus company but she said she didn’t have a ‘slidey phone’ like mine, just an ordinary one at home. ‘Ah,’ I exclaimed, ‘a landline! You can use that instead.’ (Thinks: you’re not getting a free phone call on my phone – I’m on a pension too, you know, AND I know you get a taxi to and from the pub every night AND you manage quite a few vodkas over the evening before you head back to a pub nearer where you live. Not that I’m judging, you understand. Who am I to judge?) I gave her the necessary numbers, which I found on my slidey phone. Still, at least she didn’t want advice on bladder control, which was what I first thought – I shouldn’t have liked to discuss that over my Sauvignon Blanc, I have to be honest.

Anyway, enough of little old ladies (LOLs for short); I know that you, my devoted followers, are



far more interested in knowing what life can be like in the fast lane, as experienced by my male siblings and me in Cheshire at the weekend as we prepared to send DOT off on the next stage of his life (or having fun whilst working, as I call it). These are the rules, as far as I could work out:
1. A Range Rover is absolutely essential for driving up and down the main street and parking outside small boutique shops where the sales are on and a pair of tights is reduced from £40 to £20 – a bargain!
2. The Range Rover must be black or white; no other colour is acceptable (or even available, judging by the car showrooms we passed).
3. The Range Rover must not look as if it has been anywhere near something that might resemble an off-road route for which it was originally designed.
4. The only other acceptable vehicles are: BMW (black), Audi (deep red); Mercedes (silver); anything convertible, providing it’s a Bentley or a cute little Italian job in pale green.
5. All women (except the LSG, who is above such ‘rules’ because her ‘diet’ doesn’t allow for it) must be stick thin and wear tight black dresses (bought in the sale, a bargain at £390) and very high heels.
6. Restaurants are not called ‘restaurants’; they are either an ‘Eatery’, a ‘Grill’ or a ‘Food House’.
7. The ‘house wine’ will be sold out and the next available ‘house’ wine will be at least £6 more expensive than the already-expensive house wine.
8. Red wine and coke is a ‘classic Spanish cocktail’, according to one menu – just trying to remember how many Spaniards I’ve seen quaffing this delightful combination.

It’s just like being abroad, but you don’t have to learn the language! Happy holidays!

Going on Holiday

planeA very good day to you from the Lifestyle Support Guru! Having just returned from Tenerife, I felt I should share some hints and tips on how to make the most of your holiday, especially since not all of you are on permanent holiday like I am, so you need to ensure that you don’t waste any of your valuable time.
1. Don’t just throw your make-up bag into your carry-on case at the last minute (boys, I’m talking to you, too) – I didn’t know that mascara counts as a liquid – and nor did I know that roll-on deodorant had to be ‘declared’ either. Take it from me that it is NOT possible to fit five mascara wands, a roll-on deodorant, a tube of toothpaste, a small bottle of shower gel and a small bottle of body lotion into one of those small airport plastic bags, although the Customs woman tried her best. In the end, she split the items into two bags and gave DOT (Dai of Tanzania/Turkey, although we’re still not too sure about the latter at the moment) the one with the mascara, girly-smelling shower gel and body lotion to carry through security. How I laughed!
2. Once you are seated in the airport bar, make sure you have a stiff drink in front of you to help cope with the trauma of:mushrooms
a) Suddenly realising that you hadn’t done the last thing on your list of ‘things to do before I go on holiday’, which was ‘empty the fridge’ and that you will now return to some manky mushrooms and beans and sausages, which you’d been intending to use up for the last few days. There is also milk in there…
b) Receiving a text from the company from which you’d ordered a sofa several weeks ago to say that it was ready for delivery and asking you to ring to arrange a date. You ring and explain that you are about to board a plane…
c) Looking up at the television in the bar and finding that Theresa May has become Prime Minister!
And all this has happened before you’ve even left the country!

Glass of Beer

Real Ale

Whilst on holiday, do make sure that you book a place at the Brazilian Fiesta Night at the hotel (although I never did find out why Spanish Tenerife had a Brazilian Night?). This will afford many opportunities for entertainment and fun, especially if you are seated on a table with some Germans. Since the price included unlimited alcohol (ha! I knew you were wondering why I would have opted for a Brazilian Night!), we fully expected the Germans to be sinking stein after stein of beer, but they managed one pint and one small glass of wine between four of them and then left early – one can only assume to get their towels ready for an early start on the sunbeds. DOT and I, however, made sure that we made the most of the local alcohol before Brexit kicks in and makes it too expensive to go on holiday.
The ‘Brazilian’ dancers didn’t look very Brazilian – I think they had come via the nearby west coast of Africa – and they weren’t necessarily chosen for their dance ability either, but they were VERY enthusiastic; DOT said the girl would have achieved a borderline C/D in GCSE Dance, but an A for GCSE Legs. What a wag!! How I laughed!
There was then a trio of singers who didn’t look very Brazilian either and nor did their repertoire of songs sound Brazilian, unless ‘Happy’ and ‘Uptown Funk’ derived from that country? Who am I to query such matters? But how I laughed!
The price included food – unfortunately, the dessert was chocolate brownie and ice cream, neither of which is a favourite of the LSG, but DOT did well out of it. I didn’t do too badly either – I swapped my dessert for his Cava… How I laughed!
And finally, be sure to go on a jeep safari up the highest mountain in Spain (not on the mainland, obviously), if only to give some serious respect to the drivers who took those Land Rovers up almost vertical paths – even the Welsh would be impressed with their hill starts! This day out also offers you the opportunity to get burned to a crisp because the air is thinner, being so high up, so less protection from those naughty little rays of sunshine… and you forgot to put the sun screen in your bag. How I laughed!

If nothing else, make sure that you laugh! 🙂

Languages are fun – Quiz!

Dark Continent

Dark Continent

Now that I have returned from the Dark Continent, I felt I needed to share with you some of the things I have learned, one of which is that it is very easy to get by in Swahili with just a few words, BUT you need to make sure that you learn those words properly. The following examples – all taken from real life – will show you exactly how easy it is to make mistakes, especially when nervous and trying to say the right thing:

Role Play 1:
The Swahili for ‘Welcome’ is ‘Karibu’ or ‘Karibuni’.
Now imagine you are the retiring Head of an international school in, let’s say, Tanzania and you are attending your own retirement party in the school hall. How do you greet the assembled staff?
a) Karibu
b) Karibuni
c) Calamari
If you answered c), you have just called the staff a load of squid.

Role Play 2:
The Swahili for ‘Hello’ is ‘Mambo’ or ‘Jambo’.
Now imagine that you are a teacher walking out of the school gates, which are opened for you by a guard who is a local. How do you greet the guard?
a) Mambo
b) Jambo
c) Sambo
If you answered c), you have just put race relations back about 50 years! (If you answered a AND b, then you are not taking this seriously.)



Role Play 3:
You are on safari and your guide points out a large black and white bird. Trying to show off, you proudly announce that you know what it is. What do you say?
a) Marabou
b) Caribou
c) Karibu
The only correct answer is a), a marabou being a large stork. If you answered b), you are on the wrong continent, since caribou is the North American name for reindeer, and if you answered c), you clearly did not pay any attention to the information given in Role Play 1.

Role Play 4:
The Swahili for ‘Hello’ is ‘Habari’.
Now imagine that you wish to greet someone in the street. What do you say?
a) Habari
b) Haribo
The only correct answer is a). If you said b), then you have seen too many TV adverts.

Two of these were – gulp! – mistakes made by the LSG herself, proving that I, too, have some human frailties!

And there you are – ready for your first hesitant steps in Swahili, which will be of great use in Derby, Ponty, Devon, Non-Iron and many other places where I have FB friends. Hakuna matata!

LSG To The Rescue


Tropical Storm

Tropical Storm

Before I continue with tales of my exciting travels through Tanzania, I must relate my role in saving four young Americans from what would have been certain death in the harsh African environment.
My intrepid companions, DOT and TOFU, and I were returning from a long day out in the bush, having had our fill of wandering wildebeest (one can weary of wildebeest after an hour or two – they don’t do a lot and they don’t really have any ‘cute’ factor) when our driver screeched to a halt (a slight exaggeration, perhaps) upon seeing another safari vehicle at the side of the road with five people standing next to it. Bosco, our driver, spoke to the other driver in Swahili (in which I am now almost fluent, since I can ask for two OR three beers AND say ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you’), then asked us if we would mind giving the four passengers a lift back to their campsite because the suspension on their vehicle had broken. ‘Of course,’ I cried out straight away (being the natural leader of the group) and welcomed the young people into our own vehicle after directing DOT and TOFU in the rearrangement of our luggage, which involved no discomfort on my part but necessitated everyone else having to squash up, and off we set.
All the way to the camp, I was imagining what might have happened to them if we hadn’t stopped – death by starvation (although one of the group might have taken a little longer to starve than the rest) or an attack by lions in the night (wishing for a change of diet from wildebeest), but when we got to their campsite, all I can say is that either form of death would have been preferable to what they would face that evening! DAAAHHLINGS!! Positively primitive – small tents, a communal toilet block, such a lack of even the basics – no en suite, no television or mini-bar, doing your own cooking AND washing up! Unthinkable! We left them there and continued on to our own accommodation, which was all one could ask for, including more staff than guests and a view over the Ngorongoro Crater which ‘breath-taking’ doesn’t even begin to describe.

Ngorongoro Crater at dawn

Ngorongoro Crater at dawn

And now I will continue with my insightful TRAVEL TIPS, some of which may surprise you. I had not thought that Tanzania – and the Great Rift Valley in particular – would make me feel homesick for Wales, but there were times when I felt that we could be driving through the Brecon Beacons, such was the scenery – green, lush and mountainous. It was so easy to imagine oneself back in God’s Own Country if one discounted the coffee plantations, the oxen pulling carts, the goats and the Maasai warriors (although the natives of Brecon have been known to get a little wild after a couple of sherries on New Year’s Eve and who could forget Ivor Emmanuel holding off the whole of the Zulu nation with his rendition of ‘Men of Harlech’?).

What other TRAVEL TIPS may be of help? It is always useful to carry a flash drive (memory stick for the less technical) with your own cheerful choice of music on it, such as ‘Mad World’, ‘Fix You’ and ‘Someone Like You’ – this avoids having to listen to Jim Reeves’ ’20 Most Depressing Songs Ever’ at your hotel, including ‘God Be With You Till We Meet Again’ and ‘Life Will Be Better On the Other Side’, which make Leonard Cohen appear like a joyful, life-affirming person of irrepressible jollity!

That will do for now – I do not wish to overburden you with too much information because, unlike the LSG, most humans do NOT have an infinite capacity for retaining information. Usiku mwema, rafiki!