Tuesday, August 08, 2006

A [late] postcard from my summer hols……….

I’ve been back a week and brought back with me most of the stamps, I took to affix to all the postcards; I was going to buy and send.

I only managed to write a few cards because I got writer’s cramp and writer’s block. Not to mention that I’m easily distracted and I became overwhelmed by the endless supply of red wine in Stranraer.

Bet you didn’t know this but it’s an amazing fact that more red wine is drunk in Stranraer than anywhere else in Europe. Isn’t it an amazing fact? Yes, I thought so too. My thoughts were ‘God I make up some amazing facts and so effortlessly too’]

But what a holiday we’ve had. I’m still getting over the fact that we drove over a thousand miles without needing to take a phrase book or purchase euros. We haven’t done many ‘holidays in the UK’ malarkey before, but I’m a bloody expert now, so don’t bother with the English Tourist Board just ask me because I’m up to A level standard already.

And also because we crossed the border into Scotland, I’m also totally knowledgeable about anything with a Mac at the front of it. Test me if you like, but I’m now well versed in Scottish lighthouses, traditions and cuisine. I’ve eaten lots of really Scottish food such as real porridge [made with oats from a packet with a man wearing a kilt], square sausage, neaps’ & tatties, Scottish lobster, side of Aberdeen Angus [casseroled in an Iron Bru sauce], and a deep fried Mars Bar. I’m a total jockaphile. In my next life I’m coming back as Mary Queen of Scots or Sheena Easton.

Back to the beginning, because I feel I want to share my holiday with you, dear reader, as quickly as possible because I want to go to bed. I had to go to Thorpe Pak today and it’s a terrible place. I’m renaming it the ‘Chav Republic’. I want to go to bed real soon, so that when I wake up tomorrow, today will be a fading unpleasant memory, on par with being mugged at knife point.

So the beginning our holiday started the day after Lizzie broke up from school with a bit of a ‘domestic’ on our drive because Gary thought I was taking to much stuff. I admit both of us had to sit on the boot to close it and you couldn’t see out of the back windows but hardly ‘too much stuff’’.

I’m just one of those women who would need counselling if forced to take less than 15 pairs of shoes on holiday. I did attempt compromise, but only for a couple of seconds, as I started to feel quite queasy at the thought of jettisoning my strappy purple sandals with the kitten heel. They make me walk like a sex goddess and I keep them on in bed. How could I leave those behind?

Eventually I won on a technicality, because I pointed out that we were carrying gifts for other including 2 x 3 litre wine boxes and a gift for Gary’s Mum in Blackpool. So with no more ado, apart from going back in twice more to make sure the gas was off, and then back again to check the taps were off, and back in for a final wee, and then stopping for a paper and petrol and to put more air in the tyres; and the finally an our after saying “that’s it we’re ready’ we were heading out of Old Windsor.

So without anymore prevarication here’s my guide to a UK holiday because Thorpe Park thoughts keep niggling me.

M6 toll road, [somewhere near Birmingham & Staffordshire]. This is a ‘must do’ because you escape all the lorries and cars over ten years old. It’s a pikey free zone and helps you forget that Birmingham exists.

Stafford Services Flowers in the toilets and a nice lake to sit by with your mug of tea. There are allsorts of wild fowl, so watch out for Canadian Goose poo, especially if wearing purple strappy, open toe sandals.

Lake District We stayed in a ‘Best Western’ at ‘Bowness on Windermere’ which is a town and not a bowel disorder. This hotel is very popular with Japs and Jag owners. Gary was most impressed by our own numbered huge parking space, which meant his darling car was safe from inadvertent contamination from other vehiles.

You can’t visit the Lake District without going shopping ….I mean fell walking and for this activity I wore my Gore-Tex full laced walking boots [so much more stylish than the Velcro variety].

Sellafield Nuclear Energy Plant I wouldn’t say the Visitors Centre was empty, but there were only two other cars in the car park and they belonged to staff. However Gary has made a mental note that Sellafield offers tops Jag parking. This scores high on educational content but the shop was rubbish.

Hadrians Wall
On our way to Scotland we visited ‘Homestead’ which is an old Roman Fort with Hadrian’s Wall attached to it. It’s run by the National Trust, so the Jag parking is fine, because most National trust members arrive in ancient motor homes. The occupants are normally husband and wife combos, wearing matching fleeces ad smelling of wet dogs. For this visit I chose to wear my white M&S ‘foot glove’ sandals. Yes, they are two years old but the motor homes owners still looked on as if I was a style icon, because I teamed my white sandals with a bright pink mini skirt and a gel bra. You could see me in Newcastle [where I would have fitted in].

Hadrian’s Wall is also very educational and will be nice when finished.

Scotland As we crossed the border we cheered and put on a ‘Proclaimers’ CD. I sang with gusto for ten miles, until Gary threatened o dump some shoes if I didn’t stop singing. I spent the rest of the journey miming and wondering which pairs he would have got rid of….. It’s about ninety miles from the border to Stranraer and its mostly single carriageway, so try and ‘cut up’ the lorries on the roundabouts.

Once we arrived at Stranraer we had to find our friend Gordon’s ten acre smalla holding which you think would be easy to find. How wrong we were. I think I could have found the lost city of Atlantis quicker.

Finally Gary admitted that his GPS had been defeated and we gave in and asked directions. Gordon’s Caledonian retreat is certainly remote. I would like to say it’s at the ‘back of the beyond’, but it’s further away than that. It’s nearer to the ‘arse end of nowhere’

To be continued, as I have a lot more to say about Scotland and particularly what footwear is required for climbing lighthouses and visiting Botanic gardens…….

I also need to spell check this and read it through for clarity, but bugger that I’m too tired, so I’m posting it tonight.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Mirror Miror on the wall, please let me post the most idealised profile of them all!

Today, I was listening to someone being interviewed about Internet dating. [You know where you arrange to meet former axe murderers, in far away pubs and hand over your credit card and pin number in return for a quick fumble and a chicken caesar salad Then three days later you recognise them on Crimewatch - yes that's Internet dating.]

Anyhow the Internet dating expert said words to the effect that some people don't always tell the whole truth when submitting a profile and tend to idealise themselves. Well slap my thigh and call me Buttons - who would have thought it. Fancy people not telling the whole truth about themselves!

Apart from wanting to phone in and ask what mind bending drugs she had been takig for the last ten years; it got me thinking about the times when we are asked to provide a pen portrait of ourselves and how we might like to present ourselves as being a little bit more interesting or clever than we really are.

So today I had my first attempt at filling in the 'about me' section on my blog profile and decided to err on the side of caution and not mention the degree and fab boobs [that I haven't got] in favour of some of my failings, such as being bad at maths.

Actually I'm worse than bad, but at least I have tried to rectify the situation by going on three adult learning maths courses. Although I didn't attend all of the last course because I couldn't remember the sequence of the room number. Was it 212 or 121?? I did attend two fascinating lectures on body piercings and topiary; which I think were unconnected.

Anyway I'm going to add more to this another day, bcause I'm quite attached to my failings and I think they're worth an airing.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

An extract from my book......

I must warn the faint hearted that my book contains torrid sex scenes, as the main character bed hops her way around Berkshire. Clearly as I've been married for the past 14 years, the research has been problematic and reliant on memory, but I guess historical 'bodice ripping' writers have the same problems. I mean how many times have you had your bodice ripped off?

This is an extract from an early chapter, when the main character goes shopping. I'm very good at researching the shopping scenes. This bit just contains the pre-shopping scene in a public toilet in Egham. [I have to get my inspiration from somewhere and I visited this loo several times to get the angles right.]

Oh yes, my book also contains bad language. That's not such a problem as I have just finished working with a group of people, who suffered from collective 'Tourettes Syndrome', so they were a marvellous source of rude words and depravity. [In other words good authentic research material.]

Actually there's no sex in this extract, so please feel free to read someone else's log if you feel I've teased you with a false promise of a knee trembling moment. There's not a lot of sex in the rest of the book either!

As Annie finally made her way towards Egham High Street, she regretted not going to the loo before she had left the house. She conceded that there was no way could she trot around Tesco’s without having a wee and with a heavy heart decided she would have to use the loo, to the left under the covered walk way.

There was a sign indicating the gents' toilets were locked, so she was almost grateful for the smell of stale piss and cheap pine disinfectant, as she entered the ‘ladies'. At least it was open and ready for use. These loos would never win any ‘best public convenience award’.

She settled for the cubicle at the end as it was the widest and pushed the door open with her right foot. She closed it behind her, in the same way, as she had an aversion to touching public toilet door handles. She then noticed that the hook on the back of the door had been broken off.

She would rather have her mother- in- law stay a whole weekend than put her handbag on the floor, so she held it on top of her head, whist she rolled her skirt up and struggled with her knickers. This was a complicated manoeuvre but worth the effort. She wouldn't liked to have been photographed in this position.

She then squatted over the loo seat with her bum thrust backwards and studied the graffiti just above the empty toilet paper dispenser. Some one had written ‘Tracy is a slag’. Underneath someone else [presumably Tracy] had written ‘Fuck off bitch’ Only they had taken two attempts at the word 'bitch' because they had put a 'y' in the middle of their first effort and then crossed it through. How charming.

What was the point in teaching some people to read and write if they just grew up to write on toilet walls and forge the odd signature or two when making fraudulent benefits claims. She knew that was a bit judgmental but she sometimes felt outraged at what people wrote on walls. She almost had fond memories of the first graffiti she had ever read and remembered it to this day. It had read 'If you sprinkle whilst you tinkle, be a sweetie and wipe the seatie'. That was clearly the golden age of graffiti.

Annie left the cubicle and studied her frown in the broken mirror as she washed her hands in icy water. She noticed someone had written 'Darren is a fucking wanker' above the hot air dryer. He probably was.
Have just returned from Tenerife [the rough part].

Sorry I didn't send any post cards, but I was far too busy being thrown out of supermarkets. We had a good time, although I can have a good time on the train from Datchet to Waterloo.

I picked up a few more holiday tips such as;
  • Never, never, never travel anywhere on a 'First Choice' aircraft. Don't even make them your second or third choice. The space between seats is only wide enough for 'above the knee' amputees. Luckily for Gary I prebooked him an extra leg room seat on the emergency exit, so he sat there with his legs splayed out like an over-sexed lap dancer. Meanwhile Lizzie and I sat behind gathering crush injuries. How I didn't get a DVT I don't know. Clearly the gin helped thin my blood. So my advice if you can't book flights with BA, then don't go.

  • Agree with your partner about how you are going to transfer to your hotel before you land. Once we had pushed our small mountain of luggage into the arrivals area, I located our 'rep' to find out what coach we had to get on. I registered a look of absolute horror on Gary's face as he realised he was in grave danger of being herded onto another communal form of transport, which was going to stop at ten other hotels before ours. He then swept past all the other passengers [as if they had been told they had bird flu] and I caught up with him at the taxi rank swinging our cases into a cab, like he had just 'done' a bank. It was all too much for me, because I then had to walk back to tell the rep that 'No we didn't want to go on the coach, nor attend the welcome party or visit Mount Teide or go to the lizard mating park. By the time I got back to the taxi Gary was practically fluent in 'Cab driver Spanish'.

  • Don't let your spouse talk you out of taking your extra warm fluffy dressing gown with you, and try to bluff you with the average night time temperatures of 16 degrees. That may well be the case, but when we arrived Gary whacked on the air conditioning and I went blue with frost bite. It was only when I threatened to phone home and apply for cold weather payments that he relented. I spent the rest of the holiday trying to make dressing gown shapes out of the towels. I have the pattern now if you're interested. It can also be used as a rope ladder for climbing out of burning buildings.

  • Avoid the Country & Western bars. Apart from the fact that most of all the C&W singers sound like they have parts of their anatomy trapped in their car door, there's a limit to how many morose 'my wife ran off and left me and my dorg died too' type of songs you can listen to and stay sane. By the end of the second week I developed a sort of nervous tick when I heard 'Ruby don't take your love to town'

That's all from my handy book of travel advice volume 1. Hope to catch up with you all sooner or later


April 2006

Dear Reader,

Here's a e-postcard I sent from our holiday in the South of France in November 2004. I'm publishing this a reminder to me and a warning to anyone in particular, about the perils of holidaying in France. Lets face facts; they don't like us and we don't like them. Ca la vie. Let's get over it and find somewhere else to moan about.


Bon Jour friends,

We have just returned from France, where we had a very good half term break. Unfortunately I didn't get round to writing any postcards so I'm sending you all an e-mail instead.

As most of you already know the south of France is absolutely beautiful [it suffers from a tremendous amount of dog poo but is nevertheless stunningly beautiful].

We found a very attractive place to stay, which is about half a mile away from where we actually stayed, so please contact me if you want the name of an unpleasant apartment complex for you to recommend to people you don't like.

We had lovely weather apart from the rain. Actually it only rained twice. Once for four days and then for three. I do miss Tommy Cooper. Seriously it only rained on the last day, so Lizzie swam in the sea most days.

I have just remembered the reason she swam in the sea was because the apartment complex swimming pool was out of order & closed. Don't tell your 'friends' this. Let 'em fry in July.

Amyhow back to France and the countryside bit. The coastal scenes are breathtaking and apparently you can enjoy some good vistas on the coastal train to Monte Carlo, Menton & Nice. Unfortunately the French train cleaners have never heard of 'Monsieur Muscle' and the windows were filthy. I'm sure the views were lovely and luckily I have a good imagination.

Once I had got the sightseeing bit out of the way, I concentrated on improving the French economy and bought lots of very useful things that I never knew I wanted including a pair of pink 'Aladdin' stye shoes with litle pearls stuck on them, which at the time of purchase I thought were ultra chic, but now I'm back in grey rainy Windsor I'm not so sure. In fact I'm not sure at all. They might have to go in the cupboard with 'Davy Crocker' hat I bought in West Virginia and my 'pope in a snow storm' that I bought in the Vatican City in July.

Now I've dealt with the views and the shopping what about the people.

As for the people are concerned I can only say that the French aren't cheese eating surrender monkeys at all. No they are far worse.

We stayed in an apartment complex where each of the six receptionists were suffering from advanced sulkiness and major league PMT so they made
ignoring residents requests an art form.

Every request was met with a combo of shrug of the shoulders, petulant pout or fixed stare.

"When will the pool be fixed please?" Response 1 shrug and 2 pouts.

"Our bath has no plug?" Response 1 shrug

"Please can you call us a taxi?" 2 stares and a pout

We did slightly better with our taxi driver on the return leg to the airport - he just didn't bother to turn up. I'm sure if he had of turned up, he would have sulked.

However, Gary, Lizzie and I enjoyed all the walking, fresh air, delicious food and joking apart we truly have a good time and I'm thinking of writing a book about genteel British folk don't like to to use 'hole in the floor toilets' with no lighting. We might even return!

With love from Charlotte.
November 2004

Monday, April 24, 2006

Ok, lets start at the beginning.....What in the name of all you hold dear, does 'Ultracrepidarian' mean? Is it a word, a nationality, an illness or a strange sexual practice?

Well dearest reader, it's one of my favourite big, juicy, satisfying words and it suits me down to the ground.

It means 'expressing an opinion beyond one's own area of expertise' and it is a beauifully liberating word because it allows me total freedom to roam through any subject without worrying, that I have no personal experience or knowledge about it.

It allows me to chuck in my two-penneth, with total abandon; without fear of comeback, counter argument or the wrath of someone who is a geniune expert. And boy, have I upset a few of them, as I have merrily dipped into areas where I has no business to be, but the subject just grabbed my attention for a short while.

So if you want to stroll down a few of life's paths with me in order to make assumptions, jump into some judgementalism and swim in sweeping genaralisations, then stay on board.

There are so many topics to explore such as life, love, holidays, shopping, families, other people's kids [aren't they a pain?] and all the other really impotant stuff such as the 'human condition' and developing strategies to get the best parking spaces and most from your relationships.

Let me help you develop optimism and a sense of purpose. I've read so many self help books [well the introdutions at least] that I can help make you slim, confident, happy, more stylish etc. Well OK maybe not, but I can at least raise a smile of a directionless day.

So why am I blogging. Because I'm no good at making cakes and I hate the gym.