Category: Travel

A Wet Weekend in Worcester

Original art by Joseph Morewood Staniforth (died 1921) - Western Mail (Wales), Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6643053Hello, Beloved Believers! Here I am again, the Lifestyle Support Guru, fresh from my annual rugby trip with a few followers, this time to Worcester, which is a very nice place to visit, with lots of pubs and friendly people who were quite happy to let us eat and drink well after the time they were going to close – well done, Worcesterians, or whatever people from Worcester may be called.

However, not everything was perfect, starting with sibling’s choice of transportation for his change of clothing for the weekend. We have a range of cases and holdalls, from small to large, to cover all holiday eventualities, but his personal preference? A large, bright blue recycling bag with ‘GLASS’ printed in large letters on the side. I didn’t ask what he had done with the actual recycling …

We collected the Tiny Tyke and set off, arriving in good time and just ahead of the other party members whom I shall call Nigel and Ian for the sake of anonymity. This early arrival turned out to be very fortuitous because, somehow, Nigel – to be referred to as NN (Nigel the Nincompoop) from now on – had made a real mess of his booking. I shall try to explain this.

NN only had one job and that was to book two rooms – one for him, one for Ian; he managed to book three: two through the hotel chain’s central reservation and one through an agency – the LSG is still trying to follow the logic of that. On top of that, he booked them for the wrong date! One job, Nigel, that’s all you had! That was not the end of it by any means, though. He changed the dates – or so he thought – and offered one of the rooms to the LSG, who had not yet booked her allocation for the Derby Deputation. The offer was accepted and the LSG went on to book two more rooms for sibling and TT (Tiny Tyke). All’s well that ends well – or does it? It turned out that only two of the three rooms had been changed to the correct date and that the other one had been classed as a ‘no show’ for the previous weekend, so we were one room short. When I say ‘we’, I mean NN was short of a room… To cut a long story short, the LSG, TT and recycling sibling went off to the pub while NN and Ian the Intelligent tried to sort out the rooms. The story ended with NN having to check into another hotel, but that’s for another day …

glass of red wine

glass of red wine

What else did the LSG learn about Worcester? Well, I knew it was posh because it has a Waitrose, but this Waitrose has … a wine bar!! That’s a difficult decision – shopping or wine bar? Wine bar or shopping? It’s a little bit like baked beans and sherry trifle – both nice, but you wouldn’t put them together (well, you might if you’re the TT because he likes weird mixtures of food, but there again, he IS from Yorkshire). Even the LSG wouldn’t combine shopping and wine, much as she enjoys both – that way lies disaster and a much-depleted bank account!

There was much laughter and jollity over the weekend ( although most of it shouldn’t be repeated in polite company) and much quaffing of alcoholic drinks and I would recommend Worcester as a place to visit, but don’t – I repeat, DON’T – let the Nincompoop book your rooms. Let your mantra be: Leave it to the LSG!

Wheels On Fire

www.lifestylesupportguru.comA very good evening to you all from the Lifestyle Support Guru, and a somewhat belated Happy New Year (or HNY as many people wrote. Why not go the whole hog and just use MC for Merry Christmas and HB for Happy Birthday – saves all that tiresome effort of writing or typing the whole thing out!).

Tonight, I thought I would regale you with the tale of a friend who recently had the misfortune of having to be wheeled through Alicante airport. When I say ‘wheeled’, I mean that she was in a wheelchair, rather than attached to a set of wheels like some strange living suitcase – no way she would have fitted in Ryanair’s overhead cabin lockers! How did this come about? you may well wonder. I shall recount the tale as she recounted it to me.
This very good friend had gone on holiday to Spain over the Christmas period with two siblings, to get away from the hurly-burly of a British Christmas. It was a very enjoyable time, visiting the local bars to get the authentic feel of a foreign country. We went – sorry, THEY went – to places such as ‘The Bog Road’, ‘O’Leary’s’, ‘O’Riordan’s’, all filled with people who had lived there since time immemorial, or at least since the 1970s. There was one upstart newcomer bar called Bushwhacka, but the friends couldn’t see that lasting long because they actually measured out the drinks such as Baileys – rather than just pouring them until you said ‘Stop – AND charged an incredible 3 euros for a large glass of wine, compared with the ‘proper’ local bars which charged a more www.lifestylesupportguru.comacceptable 2 euros. One other bar which showed potential was called Miguel’s (or something equally foreign) and had a lovely tapas menu as well as an owner who only spoke Spanish.

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The siblings were quite prepared to spend the holidays there, improving their foreign language skills and working their way through the tapas menu. Imagine their disappointment when they turned up the next day and saw a notice on the door; ‘Cerrado hasta febraro’ – ‘Closed until February’! Miguel obviously hadn’t realised quite how much business he could have had over a 12-day period with the siblings.
So, what does this have to do with the friend being wheeled through Alicante airport? Well, nothing, really – I was just trying to give some local colour and tell a tale!

Without boring you with details, suffice to say that, for unknown reasons, the good friend had developed some problems with breathlessness during the holiday and it was thought best to ask for assistance at the airport for the return journey.
www.lifestylesupportguru.comUpon the siblings’ arrival there on the day of departure, a very nice young lady turned up with a wheelchair and wheeled the friend off to the special queue for the less mobile, followed by one sibling wheeling two suitcases (the other sibling would be following a few days later). They joined a queue of other similarly afflicted people, none below the age of 70, apart from my friend – God’s waiting room, indeed! Once through the security check (helpers on either side of the stand-up screening machine in case anyone wobbled or fell over), the wheelchairs were all lined up alongside each other to await a helper to take them to the aircraft – this was true GTA! (No, not Grand Theft Auto, more Geriatrics To Alicante!)

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Luckily, the friend had her sibling to push her along – the airport was pretty busy, but the sibling managed to find a space for a wheelchair to await the announcement of the flight departure. (Did I mention that this space was in an airport bar and that every other wheelchair-bound person had found their way there as well?)
All went well, including the friend being ‘offloaded’ at East Midlands Airport via the mobility lift from the plane, during which time she made a friend for life – between getting in the mobility lift and going through passport control, this other invalid had told the friend her full life story, from where she’d been born to why she was on the mobility lift.
The only worrying part was when they seemed to be one wheelchair short and it looked as if my friend was going to have to be loaded back onto the plane and returned to Alicante like some piece of discarded and unwanted baggage. Maybe the siblings could have claimed something on the insurance?
The friend has made a full recovery – well, when I say ‘full’, I mean as full as is possible for a lazy, overweight person who avoids most form of exercise other than walking to the pub. Good night!

A Christmas Message from the LSG

A very merry Christmas to you all! I am delighted to share my Christmas message with you all today, especially since it’s after Her Majesty’s, so you will already have fallen asleep in front of the television stuffed full of turkey or nut roast and several glasses of champagne, prosecco and wine – that’s you stuffed full, of course, not the television – and you will now be ready for some uplifting words of wisdom and support to help you through the rest of the evening and the days that follow until you can fall meekly into 2019!

Even though I have the body of a weak and feeble woman – my doctor might disagree slightly with that description – I have the heart and stomach of a demi-god and can help you negotiate a safe path through the trials of a hectic time until you can relax with a small glass of dry sherry at the end of the day and watch whichever repeats may be offered to you as entertainment. (I can recite verbatim almost every script from Morecambe and Wise!)

I hope you enjoyed Christmas morning, although I suspect many of you were probably up around 4 am with the excitement – and that’s just the adults! – and are now ready to fall asleep again. I hope you haven’t already run out of batteries or found that you bought the wrong size and won’t be able to get any now until tomorrow. If that’s the case, the rest of Christmas night is going to be a disaster, I’m afraid. You’re going to have to resort to Monopoly, Scrabble and Trivial Pursuit instead of Hungry Hippos and Lego robots.
If you went to church, I hope you took a good slurp of communion wine in preparation for the fray.
I shan’t send you a message from God because I don’t know which god or gods you worship, or even if you worship one. That is entirely up to you – personally, I favour the Ancient Greek and Roman ways of worshipping different gods for different things and I particularly like Vesta, the Roman goddess of the hearth, home and family – how can you not worship a goddess who created delightful dishes such as Vesta curry, paella and chow mein? And I think she had a son called Pot Noodle.
Anyway, I digress. The Christmas message I want to send to all of you is one of hope, faith and charity.
Hope that you made it to the end of Christmas day without trying to murder that ageing aunt who insisted on telling you how much better she could have cooked the lunch if only she could stand for long enough, but you resisted the urge to tell her that she should have stayed off the sherry in that case!

Faith in yourself to cater for all the family, including the picky eater, the vegetarian and the vegan, the one who won’t eat sprouts and the cousin who insists on ONLY eating sprouts – just be glad he left straight after lunch to visit his mother!

And charity – the charity to keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you … to meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two impostors just the same.
I’m sure I’ve used those lines before …
https://amzn.to/2SpzNe8 Available in the UK from Amazon via www.lifestylesupportguru.comAnd in case you want to know what I got for Christmas, just look at the accompanying photos to spot the treasure from youngest sibling, brought all the way from Australia.

And you will, of course, enjoy looking at the genuine Armani watches I bought from a lovely street seller as a Christmas treat for myself, one in black, one in white (genuine plastic watchstraps, and one works on what I call ‘Armani time’, falling behind by about ten minutes every two hours or whenever it feels like it – but that’s what you get for paying a lot of money for something).

And, finally, Christmas lunch in the sun – not a turkey or sprout in sight!

A very merry Christmas to you all!

Awaydays

A very good evening to you all from the Lifestyle Support Guru!
I am writing this whilst sitting in a drinking establishment in Coventry. Why Coventry, you may well ask. Why not, I may well answer. It seemed as good a place as any to visit for the night on the way back from Cambridge. Why Cambridge, you may well ask. Why not, I may well answer, but I shan’t, because that would be the wrong answer. One male sibling and I went there to visit oldest female sibling and her granddaughter, who are visiting their son and dad respectively while he lolls around Cambridge University inventing things to do with storage of heat and energy – I would explain this more fully, since I understand the process completely, but I don’t have enough time or space and I can assure you, Faithful Followers, that you would have no idea what I am on about, and I’m pretty sure that any explanation will not help you manoeuvre your way through the many miseries this life will throw at you.

The other female sibling in our Happy Family also joined us, making the Great Trek up through the Dreaded Dartford Tunnel (DDT), so we were a jolly band. If only Youngest Sibling had been able to hurry down from Hull (I am in an alliterative mood tonight), we should have been a complete family! The Hull family member said he was too busy sorting papers to make the journey, but I have a feeling this may have been a euphemism for ‘You must be joking! A family reunion! I’d rather stick pins in my eyes.’

We went to a lovely pub/restaurant on the river for lunch and ordered some food which, we were told, would take about 40 minutes because they were very busy. That seemed fine because conversation was taking a long time anyway – one or two of the group are a little hard of hearing, so everything had to be repeated at least twice, and throw in a Northern Ireland accent and you have the makings of an international conference without the benefit of an interpreter. (The food took an hour, by the way, so conversation was beginning to wane and we almost turned to the dreaded Brexit topic, but the triple-cooked chips arrived in the nick of time!)

John Collier (1850–1934)

Painted by John Collier (1850–1934)

I am now communicating with you ‘live’ from the ‘welcoming bar’ (booking.com description) of our Coventry hotel instead of from the Indian restaurant next door where we had hoped to end the evening. The restaurant, advertised as open until 23.59 (we arrived at 21.45), was, we were told, closing in 30 minutes – for good! However, the waiter recommended a five-minute walk to a ‘whole street’ of restaurants. Did I mention that it was pouring with rain?

We decided to cut our losses and finish the evening with a glass of wine and a packet of crisps in the hotel’s ‘welcoming’ bar. The barmaid took a little while to serve us because she needed to finish her cigarette outside first, and when a note was tendered to pay, the change was given in 10p pieces – three pounds’ worth of 10p pieces! Why would a bar have a till full of 10p pieces and not a single £1 coin?
Meanwhile, some of the clientele are seated in the ‘welcoming’ bar area ringing a takeaway restaurant to complain that they haven’t received enough chips with their kebabs. Apparently, ‘only’ 20 chips per kebab aren’t enough. First World problems, eh?

Anyway, that’s Coventry covered (unlike Lady Godiva), so there is no need to return to the place – unless I find that the 10p pieces can only be spent in Coventry!

Sleep well, Beloved Believers – I have a feeling I may not!

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.