Category: Travel

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!

Life Is What You Make It

forest poster

Life is what you make it

Stuff what I have learned this week:

A very good day from the Lifestyle Support Guru! Today I am going to share with you some pieces of wisdom that I feel may help you, faithful followers, in your journey along this rocky road laughingly called ‘life’. As far as I can tell, ‘life’ is what you make it and what you make of it – in my case, perfection has almost been achieved. I say ‘almost’ because to say that I am perfect would be rather bold and would imply that I have nothing left to learn. Nothing could be further from the truth, beloved believers – I am constantly learning (for example, Spanish at the moment) and would never be so presumptuous as to think that I know everything (although some might accuse me of being a ‘know-it-all’, but I put that down to jealousy, pure and simple).

outdoorsBut I digress; here is what I have learned this week, which I hope will be of some use in your own miserable and worthless existences (and please do not think that I insult you by referring to your lives in such words; I use them only in a sense relative to the almost blissful state in which I, the LSG, exist). (Again, note the use of the word ‘almost’, showing my true humility.)


1. If you are on a diet (or, as I prefer to say, starving yourself to death), you would be wise to buy a packet of six corned beef slices from Sainsbury’s (other supermarkets are available but I haven’t checked their corned beef slices) rather than a packet of three, since there are fewer calories in each slice in the six-pack – in fact, 10 fewer calories per slice, saving you 60 calories in all! This difference in calories I regard as one of the great unsolved mysteries of the world.

National Trust

2. If you visit a National Trust property with extensive grounds where the entrance is some electricbuggytextdistance from the car park, try to follow someone of ‘mature years’ to the initial information point where she will ask if it is possible to have a lift on the electric buggy to the entrance. With luck (of which I have an inordinate amount), she will turn around and ask if you would also like a lift – I admit I may have been looking a little fragile (a practised look) and I may (just ‘may’) have exaggerated the limp slightly – so you accept (reluctantly, of course) and drag youngest sibling on with you. At first he is a little unhappy at being driven on what is, essentially, an oversized mobility scooter, but soon starts enjoying himself when we use the royal wave as we zoom past the hordes making their way to the entrance on foot. Indeed, he enjoyed himself so much that it was he who insisted on ordering the buggy for the return journey after we had spent an exhausting hour eating parsnip and apple soup and perusing the items for sale in the shop. No calories were harmed in this activity.


3. If you decide to visit Leeds, be aware that it is a VERY big city. It takes EIGHT minutes just to walk from the car park to your hotel – you could do almost the whole of Derby in this time! This time does not include checking Google Maps every two minutes before realising it would be quicker to ask a passer-by for accurate directions, nor stopping to look in a shop window to admire a rather nice large, green, woolly scarf just right for winter and making a mental note to look for said scarf in the Derby branch of the shop (sibling’s comment: ‘Looks expensive.’ Personal thought: ‘And?’).

And there you have the collected wisdom of yet another LSG visit ‘oop north’ – next week I shall be buying a flat cap and a whippet after building a homing pigeon reserve in the back yard.

History isn’t always what it seems…

Bonjour, mes chers amis! Here I am, the Lifestyle Support Guru, back from France- did you miss me?

I have many stories to tell but first I wish to share some of the more amusing things I heard from those in the seats behind me on the coach to Paris.
I need to explain that one of the ladies who was seated behind me is completely obsessed with dogs and she has, from what she told those sitting in close proximity who cared to listen, rescued dogs from ALL OVER THE WORLD, including a Brittany spaniel – from that far distant

Bichon Frise

Bichon Frise

region of Brittany – and a ‘BOUFFANT frisé’, which sounds like a small dog with big hair. (If you’re not quite up on your dog breeds, you might want to look up ‘BICHON frisé’.) She then went on to talk about how she had trained wild dogs in India by using dog treats and that she felt that British schoolchildren could be trained in a similar way – WHY has no one thought of this before?
And from natural history to history itself – I really didn’t realise quite how lacking I was in knowledge until I overheard the following conversation on the way back from Rouen:
“I didn’t know Joan of Arc died after being tied to a stick.’
“It was a big stick. But what I don’t understand is how she could have been burned as a witch because witches didn’t exist then – they didn’t exist before Oliver Cromwell.’
Oh, my dear devotees, I could continue – and I will! – but I just wanted to whet your appetite!

Didn’t we have a lovely time the day we went to Bakewell!

drone robo plane


Lifestyle Support Guru here, ready to share more wisdom with you and help you make the most of those rainy days or, as they are more lovingly known in the UK – SUMMER! You will need the following to ensure you have the greatest chance of an enjoyable day out:
1. A sibling who has bought a drone for photographic purposes but then finds he is not allowed to transport it to his next place of residence (ring any bells, DOT – Dai of Turkey?).
2. Another sibling (TOFU – Trefor of ‘Ull) who is prepared to take the drone off the first sibling’s hands.
3. The second sibling will own a large, gas-guzzling 4×4 suitable for negotiating all those potholes and dunes around Hull, but he will also have been on an off-road experience or two in the Peak District, so it has been put to some PROPER use.

4 x 4 vehicle

4 x 4

4. A weather forecast that says rain won’t be falling until the afternoon.
Having fulfilled all the necessary criteria, you should set off reasonably early to make the most of the fine weather – 10 am is perfectly acceptable, especially if you had a late night the night before.
You can be sure that, once you reach the ‘green lanes’, about half an hour later, the rain will start. ‘Green lanes’ are tracks that already exist and are public highways, although you wouldn’t want to take a little Kia Picanto along them!
You must ignore any ‘Unsuitable for motor vehicles’ signs at the start of these lanes because that is part of the fun! And it is made even more fun by seeing the looks on the faces of the walkers and cyclists who didn’t expect to see a dirty great Land Rover creeping up behind them

green road

Green road

on a lane marked as ‘Unsuitable for motor vehicles’. What larks, as you pass them with a sweet smile and a wave while they look disdainful and/or disgruntled in their wet anoraks or lycra. It is a very pleasant way of making yourself feel superior, although you wonder if you may have to ask for their help a little later as TOFU negotiates some rather rutted tracks and you ask in a quiet voice, ‘Is there a point at which we might tip over?’ TOFU laughs light-heartedly and replies, ‘Oh, we’d have to tilt over a lot more than this.’ Curiously enough, a couple of miles further on, it is your turn to laugh light-heartedly as TOFU’s voice is a little quiet when he says, ‘Hmm, I think this is as far as I’d feel happy tilting.’
After all this tilting, you may feel the need for some refreshment, so you find a little country pub tucked away in the middle of nowhere and order a half of something called ‘Old Snouty’s Rat Juice’ or similar and settle down, the only customers, waiting for all the locals to turn up and start discussing the price of lamb or cattle feed; instead, a hipster couple turns up, looks all around the pub (which is rather small), and the following conversation ensues:

Hipster Man: Do you have a table booked for seven for lunch?
Barmaid: Yes.
HM: Are they here yet? (Remember, he has just looked all around the pub.)
B (and I swear she tried not to sigh, having seen him look around the pub): No.
HM: Do you do Sunday roast?
B: Yes.
HM: Do you do it today? (It’s Saturday)
B: No, but we do a roast of the day. Today is lamb.
Luckily, the rest of the party turned up at that point, because I was beginning to think I’d walked onto the set of some undiscovered Samuel Beckett play. However, things didn’t improve greatly because one of the party read out (loudly) every item on the menu to his wife, who then insisted on repeating the items and asking what came with them. TOFU and I finished our Rat Juice and left to return to the comparative sanity of life in the city.
One final point – I can guarantee the rain will stop the moment you get back to ‘civilisation’.
That is my annual visit to the country done for this year – there is only so much fresh air one can inhale!

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!