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Our Holiday in Bodrum, Turkey

We have just spent a week in Bodrum, Turkey. It is a nice place. Full of character and ‘Turkish Delight’.  It is a chilled out place in late season. It is not too busy and most things are still open.  The people are hospitable.  It is inexpensive.  The temperature is perfect for us (around 26 degrees centigrade in the day and 18 degrees in the evening). 

My wife and I spent the week there with our recently widowed female friend and her sister and husband who joined up with us. In my previous blog post, I wrote about the stress of booking and preparing for a holiday, something that seems to get worse as one gets older. 

This post is an account of how it actually went. Hopefully you might be amused by our up’s and downs.

It started well.  We found the Leeds-Bradford ‘Sentinel’ airport car park at 3 am without any problems.  We handed the keys over, the car was securely parked on site and the bus shuttle got us to the terminal within ten minutes of arriving.  (A brilliant service in case you are considering using them.)   We were one of the first to arrive and so we queued for the check-in which frustratingly opened nearly 20 minutes late.  

The Airport Experience ….

What got me stressed straight away was that there was a lot of Jet2 staff who had arrived with us and who just stood around for 20 minutes, chatting with each other and ignoring the passengers, rather than speak to us to explain why there was a delay.

We had ‘checked-in’ online and printed our own boarding cards but I am at a loss to understand how this is more convenient for us than the old desk system.   We had to queue to get to a machine (which was not a ‘one touch’ affair as was advertised), weigh our luggage, print off our labels, stick them on the suitcases and then queue again to present our cases to a Jet 2 porter in a corner of the room so he could remove them on to a trolley. Others who hadn’t checked in online queued at a desk, handed over their bags and beat us to the security gate.  Why don’t they just admit it is a cost saver, not a better service for the passenger? 

After zigzag queuing we negotiated the security check and I was body scanned and searched – no indication as to why. Afterwards, I was asked to move away from the conveyor belt to replace my shoes and belt but to where?  The place was congested so I ignored the security guy and carried on in situ. 

Once through into the departure lounge we decided to have an early breakfast and a coffee.  We had been up since 1.00 am and we needed something. This is the sausage sandwich I was served – freshly nuked and presented with such artistic flair.  I would have complained except no one would give a shit would they?  How do they get away with serving such crap at ridiculously expensive prices?  We certainly weren’t going to buy food on the flight so we bought a Boots meal deal to take on which was probably the only good value food in the entire airport. 

Thankfully, after the standard pre-flight airport experience, the plane took off on time.  The flight was quite uneventful but far from comfortable – claustrophobic, cold, and with the added ambience of lots of coughing people. Also, the expensive refreshments lived up to expectation.  We only had tea and coffee but both were horrible.

The Arrival …..

We arrived at Bodrum airport and enjoyed a smooth transition through baggage claim and security procedures. 0ur taxi to the hotel was waiting for us.   Everything went swimmingly up to the point we were shown to our rooms at the hotel.  We had paid for a sea view but after cricking our necks and standing on tiptoes we were forced to conclude there wasn’t one.  The hotel management seemed to have no record of a sea view but as we had it in black and white on it on the booking confirmation, they had to accept that a mistake had been made.  They told us that, unfortunately, there were no sea view rooms available for the first night but they would move us to a ‘very, very nice’ room with a sea view tomorrow.  Oh well.

Sea view from room
Sea view from room

Our friend’s sister and husband who had joined us in the hotel for the week didn’t book a sea view but managed to secure a partial one – if you looked through the gaps in the wall which separated their patio area from the hotel’s outdoor stage.  As the disco speakers were just yards away, their first night was a rather late, noisy one. After complaining, they managed to get a better, quieter room.

The Kung Flu strikes …..

Day two arrived but it was 2 pm before we were taken to our new rooms and were able to unpack. Still, there was a sea view and it was very nice one indeed.  Later in the afternoon we went to meet up with our friends.  It was at this point that our friend started feeling unwell.  The following morning she was feeling worse and asked our travel representative where she could contact a doctor and before you could say “iyi değilim ve öksürüğüm var”*, she was taken to a local medical centre, accompanied by her medical insurance details and my wife, where she was promptly diagnosed with corona virus. 

(* I’m not well and I have a cough)

Sodding hell! 

Over a several hour period, she was given a chest scan, fluids, blood tests etc to assess her risk and to provide some stability and was told she would need to isolate in the hotel.  My wife got a taxi back to the hotel and our poorly friend arrived back in an ambulance some 2 hours later.   

She had no option but to isolate in her room in the hope she has a negative test in time to fly home.  Her holiday was effectively kyboshed.  The staff would bring food, water and essentials and I have to say they were very diligent and very supportive.  In effect though, our friend was imprisoned. 

And what were we to do?  The three of us could have been exposed to our friend’s pernicious droplets and aerosol particles.  We decided if any of us displayed any symptoms we would test ourselves and review the situation.  This led to an uneasy couple of days. We thought about how the various scenarios might play out if we were also to become ill, were consequently confined to quarters and couldn’t catch the flight home.  Would we battle through and say nothing?

Of course we regularly called on our sick friend to check she was coping ok and to bring additional/alternative refreshments and provide moral support.  It was clear over the next few days she was starting to feel better and that this was a mild case.  We began to relax.  So, we got on with trying to enjoy ourselves and as it turned out we had a very nice time pottering around Bodrum and the local area and relaxing in our lovely hotel complex on the beach. 

Intermission – Visiting Bodrum ….

If you are thinking of visiting Bodrum, these snippets might be of some help:

Eating out is generally inexpensive and good value.   Going ‘All inclusive’ is even better value although it does have its limitations.  Seafood is better in the restaurants and the hotel’s alcoholic spirits are poor imitations of the real thing.  But I’m not complaining. The hotel food was good, varied and there was a lot of it.  But there are only so many kebabs I can eat and so many cocktails I can drink before I fall asleep or get ill and so I didn’t overdo it.  Some hotel guests didn’t seem to have that problem or that self restraint and you could see they had devoted their life to eating and drinking and getting very fat.   

There are plenty of attractions to enjoy.  There are plenty of historical and archaeological remains to visit.  The Castle and museums are worth a visit. Check opening times though because some museums are closed on random days.  If you like boat trips, you’ll be spoilt for choice.  If I went again I would do the trip to Kos. Some of the big advertised all day trips look wonderful but take a good part of the day to get there and back so check out journey times.

The taxis are cheap, but not for the feint hearted.  Here are some tips.  Choose an older driver….  They are less likely to think they are immortal and have the skills of Lewis Hamilton.  Younger taxi drivers are reckless and seem to have a death wish.  Choose a newish car…..  We found the seat belts in the older ones didn’t work and were disguised by seat blankets.   Pretend you know where you are going ….. Drivers will take you twice round the block if you sound timid.  Tip the taxi driver… if he doesn’t try to kill you.  They don’t get paid much.

It’s worth learning a few Turkish phrases and greetings  I can see why Turkish is one of the hardest languages to learn and many holiday makers are put off for fear of getting words wrong. I struggled to pronounce even a few phrases and greetings and it probably sounded gibberish most of the time but it seemed to be appreciated by the locals if just for the comedy value.  I’m sure that appreciation manifested itself in the speed of waiter service and the amount of gin in my gin and tonic.  

There are a lot of shops   Fancy a Rolex watch, Gucci bag and a smart Boss shirt?  Well, you can get these for a fraction of the price you’d pay in Harvey Nichols.  Because they are fakes!  Honestly, I’ve never seen so many Rolex watches in my life.  If you are looking for real bargains, check out the leather goods (I mean the non fake leather goods), carpets, clothes, and jewellery.  There are reputable independent jewellers who know their stuff and offer great end of season prices.  My wife’s 70th birthday is coming up in November and after 43 years married to me I thought she deserved a new engagement ring.  So the most unimpulsive man ever bought one.  I am now poor but well loved! 

Conclusion

So, did our friend recover in time for her flight home?  Yes she did.  Our flight was, however, delayed for an hour and forty minutes. This was because the pilot wanted engineers to check that some debris which blew across the runway on landing (known as FOD) didn’t enter and damage the engine turbines. Fair enough.

So we took off and soon a number of people around me started coughing.  I had read that in the UK one on 30 people have covid at present. On the basis that our plane had a capacity of 180 passengers it seems likely that some of these had covid. Therefore, if we haven’t already picked up the Kung Flu, there’s a reasonable chance we will by the time we arrive home. 

We arrived back without further incident but some two hours late. No sooner had we dragged our bags from the terminal to the ‘Sentinel’ bus stop, the bus arrived for us. “Mr and Mrs Simpson I presume”, said the driver. Brilliant!

Post Script

We don’t seem to have any covid symptoms so far and I am getting to the point of not caring.  Its getting too much of an inconvenience and an obsession with people.

I need a long rest before thinking about our next holiday.

I’m going on Holiday. Why am I stressed?

We have just over a week to go before our holiday to Turkey and we are stressed as hell.  Why?

We’re not worried about the cost.  We have a decent planned budget and we’ll stick to it.

It’s not that we have unrealistic expectations. We never get carried away and we are always pleasantly surprised when things are as advertised and go to plan.

It’s not worry about the unknown, the prospect of visiting a different place with a different religion, customs and etc..  We respect the country we’re going to and its people, and I would expect them to respect us.

We are not worried about getting along with the people we are going away with.  They are damn good company and easy going.

Nor are we stressing about how to spend our time there.  We will explore a bit and relax a bit and plan most of it when we get there.

We are thoroughly organised on the health front. We have our medication packed, our hearing aid batteries, we have our flight compression socks, and I have had my ears syringed so I can hear properly. (With my substandard ears, flights are bad for solidifying any ear wax that might be lurking).

So what are we stressed about? Well, this is what we’re thinking ……..

Will we die on the way there or back? We don’t have any real safety concerns about flying other than the take-off, landing and that bit in between.  Have we put all our affairs in order?

Did we do enough research? Did we book the right hotel?  This holiday is part of my wife’s 70th Birthday celebrations and those of another two in our party who have turned 70 this year.  So we expect the hotel to be as advertised and up to its rave reviews.  We have already had to cancel a holiday in the same resort after reading some horrendous reviews after we had booked it. That was a stressful process, let me tell you. 

Have we got all the necessary documentation?  Have we printed out everything we need?  Will I ever be able to find anything on my phone if I need to?  I am slightly challenged using my smart phone and it won’t help that my phone bundle doesn’t work in Turkey so I will be charged £1 per megabyte for data and God knows what to send and receive calls.  I will need to rely on the wi-fi and my wife’s ancient phone.

Have we packed everything we need? Well, I think we’ve packed enough clothes. In fact my entire summer wardrobe has been packed. Yes packed already.  My wife likes to be organised and has everything in my suitcase, leaving me with only my gardening clothes, winter jumpers and gym kit to go out in over the next week. But have we got all the other necessities? Have we got all the little bits and pieces that are necessary for us to function happily whilst we are away. Having piled together our electronic devices, gadgets, toiletries, guides, sun cream, etc. I can see these will require their own suitcase. Will our luggage be over the weight limit?

What happens if we need medical help on the trip? Our party straddle 70, so one of us is bound to be ill. Will our travel insurance be up to it?

Will we get to Leeds-Bradford Airport on time and will we find our car park? We have researched and planned this thoroughly, but I know when it matters, I am bound to get lost driving there, or there will be impromptu night time road repair works, or some BMW driver will cause an accident and cause a road closure. What zombie like state will be in when we get there as we need to arrive three hours before a 6 am flight?

What nonsense will await us at the airport?  I hate the airport experience.  I can honestly say I’ve never had good one. How long will the queues be? How long will it take to check in, zig zag through customs like sheep at a cattle market and go through the security scanning fiasco?  (It’s uncanny how many times my wife is called back for a search after walking through the body scanner). Will we have time for a nice coffee before being herded to the claustrophobic departure lounge where we will be sat on a window ledge because all the seats have been occupied? Will there be flight delays, cancellations or overbooked flights? If so, will airport staff lock themselves in a dark cupboard so as not to give us any information about what is happening and why?  

Will our house be safe whilst we are away?  What if we have a storm and the roof blows off or what if we have a burst water pipe?  What will we do?  Did we remember to unplug the electrical appliance and turn the gas off?  Did we lock all the doors and turn the burglar alarm on? We will have our doubts all holiday despite doing umpteen checks before we go.  Will our neighbour remember to check the post and lock the porch door? Will we be able to contact our daughter? Will DPD parcel service leave parcels on our front drive?  This has happened even when we didn’t order them.

I could go on and on but I should really try not to focus on the negative.  I think it is an age related thing worrying about stuff like this. We are still exhausted from booking everything online. We have severe brain and eye fatigue thanks to the many user-unfriendly web sites we have had to navigate and their confusing interfaces. I have now run out of printer ink printing the pages and pages of stuff we’ve been asked to take. And now I have to print my own baggage label because Jet2 don’t supply them. Is it me or is it getting harder and more time consuming to book holidays and flights on the internet?

I think we will be able to look back on this holiday and agree it was worth it.  But the next time we book a holiday, it will be through a travel agent, and I will also investigate what Class A drugs I can get hold of to ease the pre-holiday stress. Or, we could just book a few short breaks in the UK instead. (Check out my posts on Short Holiday Breaks)

Celebrity Speak and Millennial Mumbo Jumbo

I am always complaining about the things celebrities say and preach to us but I am getting increasingly irritated by the way they do it.  I mean the way they speak.  And now, people are copying them.

Celebrities are celebrities because they are famous for having a talent (a debatable description in some cases), entertaining us in some way, or for just being famous.  Many are able to rise to celebrity status and sustain it due to their extrovert personalities, their confidence, their massive egos and their single-mindedness in pursuing fame.

More and more of them are using their fame to be ‘celebrity activists’ and to tell us how to make the world a better place and to prattle on about the causes they believe in.   Of course they are entitled to their own opinions but if I want serious advice on a subject I will listen to an expert, not a celebrity.  I’m sick of them telling everybody that if they try hard, they will be successful and accomplish all their dreams.  I really don’t think it’s that simple.   Of course many celebrities who have championed a cause have done so for publicity and some have been caught out further down the line for not practicing what they preach. So I tend not to listen to celebrities very much, and if I do, I will take what they say with a pinch of salt and a roll of the eyes.

The problem is that even when they are talking shite, it’s very difficult to not hear them. Some are expressive and charismatic and I am full of admiration on how they can command your attention and power talk their way into your consciousness.

I think many celebrities have gone to celebrity school and one of the things they are taught is ‘power talking’.  This includes voice training, using body language such as hand-waving whilst talking (Gordon Ramsey is really good at this) and something that I believe is called ‘linguistic supersizing’.  This is where normal words are not good enough and extreme ones need to be used to stand out.  A celebrity wouldn’t be able to call anything they experience ‘good’ or ‘nice’. They will say ‘awesome’ or ‘insane’. Bigger and louder is the way to go.

You know what?  They also use meaningless terms to grab your attention. See, I’ve just done it.   

When celebrities overdo these things, I switch off.  

It’s not just celebrities that can annoy me merely by speaking.  There are some speech patterns commonly used by younger people that make my ears hurt.  Some of these have been inspired by celebrities and copied.

The first is, ‘uptalk’.  This is where people under 35 finish a sentence with a rising tone of voice so that its sounds like a question. It’s irritating to the ear and it makes me wonder whether they are sure about what they are saying or not.

The next is something called ‘vocal fry’. This is a kind of creaky, throaty, exhaled speech sound which is particularly used by young women to create a deeper pitch of voice to sound posh and authoritative. The female cast of ‘Made in Chelsea’ use this lot.  It just sounds smug and very un-authoritative to me.

Using ‘filler’ words is very common and the most irritating one to me is, ‘like’.  It is superfluous and ‘like, totally annoying’! The next is ‘literally’. It ‘literally’ drives me mad.  It must be the most misused word ever.

Using meaningless phrases is another irritant.  I hate, ‘at the end of the day’, or ‘at this moment in time’, and especially, ‘it is what it is’.  ‘Going forward’, we should ban these.  That last one is a favourite of managers and politicians. I also hate ‘forward planning’ or the ‘plan going forward is…’.  How can a plan be about anything but the future? Planning the past would be rather pointless.

I also can’t abide people who are over familiar and use cringy terms (often of American origin).  My wife and I are often referred to as ‘You guys’ and I am apparently a ‘mate’ or ‘bud’ of many a tradesperson. If anyone calls me ‘hun’ or ‘babe’, I will explode.

Its not just the things people say that annoy me. Its the silly dramatic gestures that go with modern communication, often copied from celebrities and actors. Whenever I see a female wafting their hands in front of their eyes as a sign of getting upset, I feel I want to slap them across the face.

I know I am an old fart and getting grumpier by the day. But I can’t help feeling irritated by these things.  Of course, every generation has its own speech trends and these will go out of style and new ones invented all the time.  But I fear they will be just as annoying.  I think it will only get worse because it is the younger generations and celebrities who influence the media and therefore their use of language will dominate.

Am I being too harsh on the way celebrities speak? I have a boring, quiet voice and am not a natural conversationalist.  I struggle to tell jokes and I’m not very expressive unless I’ve had a few glasses of the something alcoholic.   (I could never have pursued a career in media.) Though I might be reasonably articulate, I am rubbish at linguistic supersizing and ‘power talking’.  But I don’t think I would annoy anyone either.

I’m taking a Reign Check on the Monarchy

I’m not a monarchist,” wrote the Labour activist Tom Bowell, “but I’m a patriot, I love this country, I respect our institutions and I always carried a deep respect for the Queen. For most of us, she was a constant in an ever-changing world.” That pretty much sums up my own feelings.

For years I have been convinced that the British monarchy is not as beneficial to us as we are led to believe.  Even though it is a constitutional monarchy and quite different to other monarchies throughout the world, I’ve always thought it to be outdated, out of touch, pointless and expensive.  Its hereditary principle means it is based on privilege and accident of birth.  By definition, it is not democratic, and could never reflect the experience of most British people. The successor to the throne will always take the crown regardless of his/her suitability, character, previous scandals etc.  I was never sure how it had benefitted the ordinary working person of this country. As much as the monarch and the royal family may try to understand economic and other hardships we face, they will never suffer them.  They are cushioned from the difficulties of economic pressures, health care availability etc. 

I have no idea how the monarchy would work as a kind of constitutional barrier against a dictatorship or a rogue Prime Minister.  I have no idea what the how much the monarchy and all the hanger-ons cost the taxpayer (though I read it cost us £100m in security alone), nor have I seen any accounts relating to costs versus income* generated (*e.g. through tourism, trade deals etc.).  

I have always struggled to get my head around the monarchy and the aristocracy in general.  I don’t understand the peerage and its relevance these days.  And I have no wish to understand the difference between a Duke, a Marquess, a Baron, an Earl, or a Viscount. All I know is, it stands for hereditary wealth and privilege and for me, it doesn’t sit easily in a modern democracy. The pomp and traditions have never offended me though.  They reflect our history and the development of the United Kingdom.  However, some of them seem unnecessary, bizarre, financially indulgent and slightly embarrassing – given we are trying to portray a modern, forward looking UK to the world.  Being British is about other things too. The Queen made some modernising changes but there is still a long way to go if the monarchy is to survive. 

I have to admit that I do have respect for, and even like some members of the Royal Family.  I think some have an impressive sense of duty and are intelligent and hard working. I have always had a soft spot for the Queen and our new King because I think they have substance, positivity and I think they are nice people. I suspect they work hard although how would we really know?

The recent death of our Queen has resulted in an outpouring of grief and affection here and abroad and like many people I have been glued to the telly, fascinated to listen to the reasons she meant so much to people.  I watched the many heartfelt tributes on news feeds and I have to admit to becoming quite emotional.  I saw more affection for King Charles and more confidence in his future rule than I expected.

Of course, the anti-monarchists will remain respectfully quiet for a while but they will resume their abolition campaign after the funeral.  That led me to wonder what a post monarchic state would be like.  If the monarch gets the boot, surely the House of Lords and all those with hereditary titles must also get the boot?  There would need to be a new elected head of state to meet and greet and make speeches whilst the Prime Minister does all the critical stuff. 

I have to wonder though, would this be any better and would it cost less than having a constitutional monarchy?  Would there be more risk of a Government being hijacked by a Hitler, Putin, or Trump?  How would our politicians foster that sense of national identity, unity and solidarity which many people feel the monarch helped to create?  If the monarchy is abolished, will people miss having a head of state that is independent of party politics and can represent the country regardless of short term political interests? Does it actually do that effectively anyway?

I do know the answers. I just cant get away from thinking the monarchy cannot be justified. That said, I wont be protesting in the streets. I am happy to leave it to the consensus of the British population. 

I feel sure the British monarchy is safe for a while at least. Both the main the political parties seem happy with the monarchy and even north of the border where republicanism is stronger, its easy  to see an Independent Scotland retaining a monarch. 

But I think King Charles has a big job to do to convince me and others that it should continue long term.  He is nowhere near as popular as the Queen.  He will need to prove that the monarchy is relevant and benefits people from all backgrounds, ethnic groups, religions and young people.  Hopefully, he will share the Queen’s undoubted qualities – intelligence, integrity, humility, grace and dignity but he will also have to show good judgement in promoting a modern and relevant monarchy and ensure that the Royals as a whole are good value for money.

To me, he certainly seems to have potential.  He seems to be more affable than the Queen, intelligent, insightful and innovative, and he has shown he is prepared to take on the modernisation of the monarchy. The Prince’s Trust is one of the most innovative and successful charities in modern Britain.  He has spoken out on architecture, the state of the environment, urban deprivation, and agriculture – which has sometimes landed him in trouble.  I have to say, I think many of his comments were justified. And I think he was ahead of the game when he campaigned on the benefits of organic production, spoke out on the dangers of climate change and pointed out mistakes in urban design and conservation.  As King, he will have to keep his personal views out of the public realm but I really hope he will take the opportunity to privately bend the ears of politicians and world leaders. We know he is good at rituals and ceremonies and will do his public duties impeccably.  But I if he becomes a Royal ‘robot’ and does not use his influence to effect changes for good, he will become pointless.

Finally, my thoughts are with the Royal family at this time. We know what they are going through. It makes you think of your own losses and all the wonderful people we’ve known who of course will never receive the same level of recognition.

Lily of the Valley, Queen Elizabeth II’s favourite flower

Short holiday breaks – Oswestry (where Shropshire meets Wales)

My wife and I have just spent a couple of days enjoying a spa hotel break in Shropshire. We like drivable short breaks in the UK . They give you a change of scenery and culture without travelling for hours and hours, and you don’t have to cook. There is so much less stress and pre-planning involved than with a long holiday or holiday abroad. And you don’t need passports, travel insurance, loads of documents and foreign money. You don’t have to go to an airport and queue in zig-zag lines to take your shoes off and put them back on again to do an 8 mile walk to the departure gate. You’re not restricted by baggage allowances and language, you don’t have to drive on the incorrect side of the road, and from experience there is less chance of getting funny tummy or malaria.

Its not all plain sailing (or rather plain driving) however. You do need as much luggage for two days in the UK as you do for a fortnight in Spain because you will need to pack your winter coats and shoes (even in the summer) and you will take home-comforts and gadgets just because you can fit them in the car. Also, you do have to you have to be prepared for traffic delays unless you are rich enough to go by rail and there are no strikes or feathers on the tracks. In fact ‘traffic obstructions on the road’ are a big thing these days – just ask my satnav – as more and more herberts crash or breakdown for the fun of it.

Anyway, this time we went to a hotel in Oswestry. Situated in a quiet corner of Shropshire, Oswestry isn’t the prettiest, most buzzing and fashionable place but… it is a tidy, pleasant market town, has plenty of character, a good few independent shops and we found the locals to be extremely friendly. Its big plus point is the fact that it is surrounded by history (castles and heritage attractions), and attractive countryside. It is also close to, in fact half surrounded by, Wales and close to little Welsh gems like Llangollen.

During our stay, we visited the wonderful British Ironwork Centre and Sculpture Park. Here you can put your arm in the mouth of a shark, walk with elephants and meet Spiderman, Robocop and SpongeBob SquarePants, all in the same afternoon– whilst following up with a coffee and meal in the Forge cafe.  We walked the 90 acres of land, exploring the amazing sculptures, browsed the artisan workshops and the showroom filled with the most eclectic and funky collection of iron goods and home accessories The centre also has a social conscience – focussing on sculptures of endangered species and promoting awareness of national and global sustainability issues. Here are a few of the photos I took.

Other highlights of our trip was the Stonehouse Brewery on the outskirts of Oswestry where we enjoyed a great meal and some fine beers in a wonderful setting adjoining a babbling brook and an apple orchard. And believe me, we needed a drink having walked there from the town and getting lost on public footpaths on a hot day. If you are in the area and fancy a visit, go on a weekend when you can catch a train (the Cambrian Heritage Railway) from the town to the Western Wharf ‘period’ station adjoining the Brewery and join one of the brewery tours. I was so in the moment enjoying my beers and meal I forgot to take photos!

The photos below feature Cae Glas Park – one of the nicest and most pristine town park I have been to for some time.  Packed within its 7 acres there there is a bandstand, a ‘Sports Village’, a bowling green, children’s play area, areas of spring and summer bedding displays, a pavilion, greenhouses and a house which is rented out. After a good ‘pottering’ and a game of crazy golf, we crossed through the Memorial gates across the road to our hotel for a rest and spruce up before setting out for our evening meal.

On Wednesday, we sampled the busy and colourful Oswestry street and indoor Market. I had to be dragged away from the two vinyl record stalls after (according to my wife) spending too much time rummaging and talking to the Welsh stallholders.

Oswestry was never on our bucket list of places to go. My sister in law suggested it after finding a good hotel deal and we knew it was an interesting area. I’m glad we went. It just shows you how much there is out there to see and experience within 100 miles or so and without giving yourself stress and silly expense.

Here are some more images of Oswestry……

Beautiful Beaches

Terri, from Second Wind Leisure, hosts Sunday Stills photo challenge, and the challenge this week is ‘Beautiful Beaches’.  Follow the link and join in or just enjoy looking at Terri’s and others’ photos.

My contribution this week is a mixed bag. I have loads of photos of beautiful beaches but my computer is misbehaving and my choice of picture folders is currently limited. Anyway, I hope you like them.

My first two are from Borth-y-Gest in North Wales.

The image below is a beach at Es Pujols on the wonderful island of Formentera near Ibiza. Yes, those are my legs.

The last one is a small cove in Nerja, Spain. I have no idea who, if anyone, lives there or what it is used for but doesn’t it look cool?

Monday Window – Southern France

Welcome to Monday Window – a photographic challenge hosted by photographer/blogger, Ludwig Keck.

This week my windows are from Southern France, in particular Cannes, Hyeres and Nice. I was drawn to photograph them because of the wonderful colours of the buildings and shutters. I hope you like them.

Cannes

Cannes

Giens Peninsula, Hyeres

Hyeres

This last one was taken a few years ago at the Nice Carnival just before the start of the ‘Battle of Flowers’.

Nice

Please note I own the copyright of all photos See ‘Legal Stuff’ above.

My evening with Count Arthur Strong

I am still laughing a week after my wife and I and a friend went to see ‘Count Arthur Strong, And This Is Me’ – a one man show based on the character Count Arthur Strong created and played by comedian Steve Delaney – at the Leeds City Varieties theatre. Bits of that evening of comedy keep coming back to me and as much as I try to explain to people unfamiliar with Arthur, what makes him funny, I start talking in the same confused and befuddled way as the Count himself and just end up snorting and giggling to myself.

At heart, Arthur is a forgetful showbiz veteran on a short fuse and over confident in his knowledge and talents. He appears as a befuddled old dodderer in a badly fitting suit and a Tyrolean hat staggering about the stage talking about himself, or as he says, “me and the man behind myself which is also me”, delivering rambling stories, mangled logic, and bizarre anecdotes and fantasies. He struggles with his memory and the English language, and rarely finishes a story, digressing and losing himself up the garden path in his confusion. In his frustration, he momentarily loses his cool and then finds another subject to ramble on about.

His ramblings include hundreds of hilarious malapropisms, many which are sheer genius and which the audience applaud individually if they are quick enough to get it. His doddery yet very physical movement on stage mixed with the funniest confused facial expressions are masterful – and why I think you have to see him perform and not just listen to his radio stuff.

As you can tell, I’m a fan. I’m also a fan of surreal comedy and this show delivered in that regard

His topics included considering the wives of ‘Henry VII I am’, the benefits of humans having a dislocatable jaw, and his recommendation that reading the chemical contents of Toilet Duck is as good as a Dickens novel for relaxing with a good read on the toilet.

Some ludicrous and surreal moments included a ventriloquism act where he struggles to delineate between himself and the doll, a tribute to Elvis – appearing in a white judo suit, Napoleon singing about Waterloo in the words of Abba playing a squeezebox, and French dancing. This wasn’t far away from Reeves and Mortimer territory.

At the end of this fun and uplifting performance I hovered over the merchandising stall and I wanted to buy a T shirt. I liked the one of Count Arthur’s face with the words ‘Sod It’ underneath – but my wife told me to grow up!

May be, but as Count Arthur might suggest,

“You could purchase my wonderful tee shirt on the interweb without her knowing and marvel at the wonderful photograph of me on the front …which I have to say has not been hairbrushed in any way and is head and soldiers above other tee shirts out there. It is ethicately man united in some foreign country where it is cheap as crisps to make. Mind you, have you seen the price of crisps now? They’ve gone up and I’m sure they’re putting fewer crisps in the bag. Its a diabolical liberty and I for one won’t be giving my money to Gary Lineker. Anyway, stop going on about crisps will you. So , as I was saying, use the intfinet or one of those computer pages to buy my wonderful tee shirt. Besides, why would you want to buy it from me at that price. I certainly wouldn’t. Its not rocket salad is it? Oh, I didn’t think that through did I? Anyway, neither did you because if you bought it, you could only wear it out of sight of your wife….. or she might give you a mouthful or an earful and that might break the camel mightn’t it?

In a previous post ‘Not Another Trouser Fire‘ there is a clip from his BBC TV comedy series. To go straight to the clip, click

Energy now restored thanks to Rolling Blackouts

No, I’m not talking about the power shutdowns likely to hit the country this winter in order to save electricity. I’m talking about the Australian indie rock band, ‘Rolling Blackouts’ who we saw at the O2 Ritz in Manchester on May 31st. This 5 piece wall of sound was just the tonic I needed after a recent spell of lethargy, dwelling on bad news and losing my music mojo.

Imagine 3 cool, perfectly intertwined guitars delivering lively guitar rhythms and killer chops, led by a bass player who struts up and down stage like a chicken on steroids and a tidy thumping drummer and you’ll get the picture.

The crowd were bouncing up and down from the word go and I have to say me and my mate Bill did a fair bit of bouncing ourselves for a couple of 68 year olds. Of course the energetic dancing, stranger hugging with arms/fingers pointed in the air was more for the youngsters and it was great to be there with them despite being jostled and having our feet repeatedly stepped on. .

As at the end and into the encore, girls were on boyfriends shoulders, the moshing started (right in front of us) and it was great to feel the old sprung dancefloor moving in time with the music. It was a proper rock and roll finish and we were knackered, and our voices were hoarse (despite a few beers earlier). But we were energised and we felt young again.

Rolling Blackouts have just released their their latest album, Endless Rooms. Here is a sample of what to expect titled, ‘The Way it Shatters

Rolling Blackouts (bass player out of shot)

#Sunday Stills -Feathered Friends

Today on Terri Webster Schrandt’s Sunday Stills Photography Challenge, the topic is ‘Feathered Freinds’. Here are some of my snaps featuring our feathered friends.

Eagle and Trainer at National Centre for Birds of Prey, Helmlsey, Yorkshire
Fine looking Rooster

What a show-off

Crane punk rocker

Duck Family on route march

Swan-ning about, Lake Garda, Italy
Noisy Geese in Delph, Oldham
Hungry seagulls in Aldeburgh, Suffolk (they could smell our fish and chips)
Father and daughter feeding Pigeon friends in Crete

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