Everyone has baggage…

Do the things we carry with us make us who we are? Do they define us? Can physical baggage change how we feel emotionally?

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I’ve just returned from one of the best holidays I’ve ever been on: a trip to Malta for my friends’ wedding. The joy didn’t arrive on the plane with us, however. Neither did my luggage! But let’s just rewind some hours previous to this…

The journey to the airport was the most stressful I’ve ever encountered. We’d already spent hours (it seemed!) discussing a suitable departure time from home, in order to get to the airport in time. I already felt I was carrying a lot of tension as baggage – as well as my large holdall. We went quite early in the end, especially since the online check-in had said there wasn’t enough seats on the plane for our party of 8 to check-in. “It’ll just be that the website’s down!” we exclaimed. “All will be fine,” we repeated, as the British do when there is no cup of tea to soothe the situation.

Additionally to this, the 2 hour drive to the airport took 4 hours due to an accident on the motorway. We had little time to check in when we finally arrived – we were the last ones. The earlier check-in warning was correct – 2 of our party had to go on a different flight. So already, we’d lost some of our friend baggage.  A quick diversion to Brussels and 400 Euros payment sweetened this for them though! My husband and I checked in our baggage – if only I’d known that my bag wasn’t going to Malta any time soon.

After check-in, I normally get that first sigh of relief – you are physically free of luggage and just have yourselves to worry about. Not this time though. We sped to security and, although our friends got through swiftly with ease, we were ages. Firstly, I got “beeped” by the metal detectors and had to have this body scan thing. I also had to wait for my turn, due to a teenage girl having a sobbing fit. Seriously could we not catch a break? She was crying because she thought she was going to get arrested I think. Don’t wear the shiny necklace and bomb shaped shoes then love!  (Okay the shoes are a joke – and I also have no idea why I get beeped every time. I must have metal in my blood or something!) I finally walked out and realised hubby was still not done. Why you ask? Oh he’d forgotten that you can’t put liquids into your hand luggage. Even though a few moments before I’d said to him “Does my Vaseline need a plastic bag you think – is it a liquid?” This still didn’t prompt him to remember that his whole toiletry bag was in his bag. Honestly, men!

So a little lighter of baggage once again (toothpaste, sun cream and after-sun to be precise) we went to the gate. No duty free shopping today, ironically the one time we’d needed to buy sun lotion too! We rushed to the gate and our friends exclaimed that my row had been called  – so off I went to board the plane. Checking in late also meant I had to sit alone, but I think I needed it. 3 hour flight + a book + a glass of wine and some Pringles = a much more relaxed Sammy. The tension had parachuted away.

Once at baggage retrieval, I was now truly ready to start the holiday. There had only been about 200 people on the flight, so the luggage whirred around the conveyor belt quickly – people grabbing, pulling and sliding their belongings off. Then nothing. No more bags. I knew, with the theme of the trip so far that mine hadn’t made it. Turns out, it was still in Heathrow and it would be with me the next morning.

Being an organised individual, I had a bikini, two pairs of pants and a pull-on beach dress in my hand luggage. (Oh and my husband and I didn’t mix our clothes up, because we were staying in different apartments: girls and boys.) Yet, I had no deodorant, toothbrush or anything to go out in that evening. I felt a little sad – and then I felt guilt. Why did I have the right to feel sad about material objects? Some people had nothing. Yes, we were also two of our party down, but we were all alive and well. This trip was only 4 days  long and I couldn’t afford to waste one by being depressed about by lack of clothing and toiletries. My new outfit to try on was one of freedom and invigoration. Plus I didn’t have to lug my bag into the taxi or up to our 5th floor apartment! Silver linings and all that.

I’ve never thought of myself as materialistic and I also believe certain things happen to try us and test us. It was freeing to think I literally had what was on my back (and the couple of items I mentioned above). I thoroughly enjoyed my afternoon at the beach – everyone has the same baggage there don’t they? Bikini, towel and some sun lotion (borrowed by a friend!) and you’re set. I must  admit I had a little wobble just before we got ready to go out though. Reception said they didn’t have a toothbrush to give me and I didn’t have any of my essentials to get ready with: make-up, perfume, body lotion, jewelry etc. For the first time since University, I felt homesick. It was the same feeling – a yearning for home comforts. Like I said above, I am not materialistic as such. I don’t particularly have expensive brands of these things –  and I was hugely grateful for everything my friends lent me/gave me – but those things are what make you “you”. We went out, had fun and cocktails – I looked alright I had to admit, my beach dress and bra combo along with borrowed jeweled flat shoes, a friend having done my make-up, a borrowed necklace and my travel bag as a handbag – but I felt like a slightly different version of “me”. I truly appreciated friendship in that hour we got ready though. As I say, I feel it was a test and it has definitely made me appreciate things that we take for granted.

The next morning at 8am, I got straight up, bunged the same beach dress on and inquired about my case. They had said at the airport that it would arrive in Malta at 1am.  The man on reception said that with his 30 years’ experience, he had noticed that the airline normally lie about the arrival and it would more likely be that evening. I was done at playing Lord of the Flies by this point and just wanted my stuff. So, another day out in the same shorts and top and bikini. Maybe, I’d lose friends too, due to my growing stench! We also joked that I could have photos taken in various spots in the same outfit. Furthermore, I was starting to worry that I’d be going to my friends’ wedding in my beach dress at this rate!

After breakfast, we returned to the room for money so that I could go out and buy a tooth brush, some pants and my sanity… when I almost tripped over a case. First thoughts of messy, untidy room-mates popped in my mind – then I recognized the white (well not so white any more – this is also the same case that I left in Newquay 5 years ago! It has had more adventures than me!) splashed with multi-coloured patterns. My case was here! Ridiculously, we all cheered! Because it was so much earlier and unexpected, it made it even more special! I had a sudden urge to get changed every hour  – just to make each and every item of clothing truly appreciated and valued! All after brushing my teeth of course 😉

So, I think we all have baggage. We all have “stuff” that make us who we are. Whether it is clothes and shoes; mobile phones; ipads; books; cuddly toys. They aren’t what’s important of course and they don’t make life more meaningful. My holiday was still fantastic with the stressful start. But they do help us to be who we are; survive the day-to-day; be the best version of ourselves. But I do recommend going without for a bit, to make you truly appreciate them. It is true that you don’t really appreciate something until it’s gone.

I rest my case 😉 …

XSXS

 

Christmas: the generous, the silly and the damn right disgusting!

I was dying to write a Christmas blog in a similar style to last year. (Link at the bottom to last year’s!) Christmas is a time when things become magnified-  someone does something bad and it seems worse; something silly is even more hilariously funny; a generous thought and you might as well be one of the Three Kings. So, I’ve been collecting stories for you and again and I’ve managed to find the generous, the silly and one disgusting one. 🙂

I’ll start with the disgusting story, as I don’t want you to leave my blog with a bad taste in your mouth. I’ll get this one out of the way 😉 My aunty has a bad back. Bad enough that  she has a looming operation and is currently walking with a stick. Not one to let this dampen her Christmas spirit, she put some silver and gold tinsel around her walking stick and hobbled to the supermarket early one morning. A woman barged into her and nearly knocked the stick from under her. My aunty is six-foot tall, so not easily missed – she also has the voice to go with her build and exclaimed loudly that this woman had banged into her in a ‘watch where you’re going’ kind of way. The lovely, woman’s response was ‘Well you shouldn’t be out with your bloody stick anyway!’ This is a nice blog, so I can’t repeat what my aunty replied. But there you go: no walking sticks about as they get in the way of badly tempered shoppers. Maybe this goes for wheelchairs too. And pushchairs. So watch out! Maybe red tinsel would make you stand out more?!

In strong contrast, I heard of someone being very generous this Christmas season. Full of good will. I won’t mention who it is – and I don’t personally know him anyway. But this man put a Facebook status on Friday basically saying the usual: ‘I’m not giving cards out this year, I’ll be giving to charity instead….’ (I did the same actually this year  at work and gave food to the homeless charity Hope.) He went a little further though and asked for people to  suggest charities to give to AND let them decided the amount of money. Each ‘like’ he received by 4pm would represent a £1. I think when I looked at lunch it was already £35 – I’ll try and found out what he paid in the end. Very generous thought – and cost him much more than cards 😉

Now to end with the funny festive stories. One, I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before. It is more of a puzzling story but it makes me amused! Each year, we receive a Christmas card to our house address. Well I say ‘we’ it is actually addressed to my boyfriend and his twin brother.  It says inside ‘God bless, Gordon.’ Nobody in their family knows who this is! He must know who the brothers are and know us well enough to know where we live, yet I haven’t been able to return a card as we have no idea who he is! We are yet to receive this card this year, so maybe he has given up on  us! If anyone knows who it is, please let me know! It has become a proper Christmas puzzle! 🙂

Talking of cards, one of my closest friends has me in stitches last night. It was typical of her and made giving out and receiving cards a much more exciting experience! She had 3 cards that she had written but had forgotten who they were for! She knew they would be between 4-5 people, but had to wait until everyone arrived at the pub so someone could open a card each to see who it was actually for! A christmas card roulette if you will……. Very funny. Lots of swapping went on and I know have an opened card for my sister, who I have to explain to this story – and even write her name on the front! Just call me a Christmas card service!

I also went to the Old people’s home a few weeks ago to help my old neighbour write his Christmas cards. This is funny and sweet this one. He gets a little upset this time of year because he has no family and his brother is no longer with us. It was him who used to write the cards. So my friend says he can’t spell etc and asked me to help him. He only wanted about 5 writing so I figured it wouldn’t take long and we’d spend time chatting – no. It took over an hour! This was because he couldn’t remember anyone’s name! He had to keep toddling off to ask Fred’s daughter’s name who takes him out for  dinner; to ask the carer’s name who brings his Ovaltine. I suggested we just wrote them all from him and keep them blank to hand out, but he was having none of it! That idea would help my friend out above to! But where’s the fun in that? 😉

So there’s the Christmas stories for this year and I’m sure they’ll be more! Keep an eye out for the generous, listen out for the silly and just ignore the disgusting!

Have a wonderful Christmas and a prosperous New Year readers, viewers and bloggers 🙂

 

 

Christmas 2012: https://samanthagray9.wordpress.com/2012/12/23/christmas-the-good-the-bad-the-funny-and-the-damn-right-inhumane/

Samantha Gray: The Edge of Cornwall Part 2

….continued.

Wednesday 7th August

Forts built 1, Forts destroyed by sea 1, fish found – at least 40, fish caught 0, cricket runs 1 (but got caught out mid-run!)

4 pm the house. Another fantastic beach day. We came well prepared today – you know all the usual stuff, buckets spades, cricket sets, books, chairs etc. Found some tiny fish in a pool. Me, Tessa and Paul tried to catch them with no avail. They were too damn small and moved too fast! Must remember a fishing net next time. Bloody good fun chasing them though. Like a trip back to childhood!

Another trip to childhood, well for me, was cricket. It took me back to dreaded P.E lessons and I was no better at the age of 27! I managed 1 cricket run – the one time I hit the ball – but I got caught out! Doh! Realised that at the grand age of 27, I didn’t have to endure a full hour of it like the P.E lessons at school. So, I gracefully bowed out, asking a 3 year old girl to take my place  – she seemed to have taken a shine to the ball and/or Kenny!

The lads also took a trip down memory lane – but how much do men grow up anyway?! Was great fun watching them build ‘Fort Swad’, building sand castles around it and a moat. Great watching them until the tide started to come in and me and Tahlee had to move the stuff each time it got closer – whilst men ‘strengthened defences’ haha. Never seen them move so fast! Some little boys, v. cute boys, said ‘are you building that so you can stay dry inside it?’ Ahhhh….

12 midnight bedroom. Great chilled evening with the gang. Cheese board and a film. Yes, we are in twenties But is good to be mature sometimes especially after been kids all day. Night all.

Thursday 8th August

Men met with seven wives 0, cream teas eaten (the Cornish way) 1, times abandoned by friends 1, Times fainted in souvenir shops 0 (excellent!)

3pm in car Been to St. Ives and not seen a single man with seven wives! Much disappointment! Beautiful place though. Been to Cornwall many times and not been to this part before. Is gorgeous with lovely, lovely beaches and shops. Spent the morning with Kath and Neil walking round the lovely shops.  Bought quote plaque without fainting – always be thankful of small mercies! Also had yummy cream tea at quaint little café. Kath was asking if we were meant to put the jam or cream on first (onto scone) and v. passionate woman declared that when in Cornwall you put the jam on first. You put the cream on first if in Devon. Made sure we did it right as not nice to have angry Cornish folk throwing their scones at you.

Still bloody good, even if not the ‘best’!

Tessa, Paul and Kenny went kayaking whilst we were learning the history of cream teas. Bit of ‘man over board’ at times I think but otherwise they had a good time. Had lovely Cornish pasty, which we believed to be the ‘best in the world’, only to walk further down the road and see the sign for the ‘best pasty in the world’. Oops – still tasted bloody good though!

5pm the house well not too chuffed with friends (Neil, Kath and Kenny excluded). Went to Seal Sanctuary after – we were all meant to meet. We assumed the others were behind us in convoy car situation because we hadn’t waited for them in St. Ives car park (we thought they had gone – v. confusing situation!). Anyway, we got there and waited by Seal Sanctuary door – 10 minutes went by, 20, 30 – gutted to have missed the otters being fed as their my favourites but wanted be good friends and wait. It got to an hour  – we had been phoning but no phone signal. Typical. Finally hear off Paul with text saying ‘at the sea lions’. Fuming was not the word, they went inside without us and had started going round! Look for their cars in car park and couldn’t find them. Realised they were at some other seal sanctuary and kind of forgive them then (yet if they had waited outside then confusion would have been sorted sooner!). Decide to go back to house as once find them will be too late.

6pm the house Tahlee and Dan walk in. Don’t mention the whole being abandoned incident. Makes me little madder so I say ‘Where have you been then?’ I may not handle situations the best sometimes but I never ignore them – best to confront things straight away and head on I think. Turns out they went to same place we just couldn’t see their cars. They couldn’t wait to see otters and assumed we would meet them. Tessa and Paul walk in too by this point and whole gang are apologetic and realise all been mix up. Guess is one of the problems when go on holiday as a group. Kenny wasn’t so understanding though and kept going on about being ‘betrayed’ by friends ha! Had beers to cheer himself up and kept teasing them about not abandoning him again etc. V. funny actually as do not normally see Kenny like this and is me who is annoyed/unreasonable one. Made point to him though that if this is the worst he has been treated by friends then he is doing pretty well in life!

11pm the house Celebrated last night of holiday at local Chinese restaurant. Not very Cornwally or Piratey but was nearest place so handy. Worst Chinese meal I’ve had in all honesty. Was all you can eat buffet but nothing was labelled. Was probably eating dog or horse! Tomatoes and salad were next to jelly and desserts so ended up with piece of sweet corn in my gateau! Realised as well that had stain on my dress from Paul’s bike. Bent down to pick key up earlier and got black oil on me – in terms of the restaurant, I fitted right in! Not best day all in all but have to make best of things and laugh at self!

Friday 9th August – leaving day

Hours to get home 6.5, Backstreet Boys’ songs enjoyed  – at least 15, left over food calories from house – must be thousands (do these count as free calories?!) Luggage left behind 0 (Great progress for me! As left case, over-night bag and fold-up chair behind last time visited Cornwall!)

8.30 am. Crazy morning of packing and emptying house. Really didn’t want to leave beautiful house. Would owners noticed if I just stayed and refused to go home? Would be a good lodger! Funny how this is the earliest we’ve all been up and out all week – don’t understand how people willing to get up early to end holiday but not to enjoy the holiday? Guess we can’t all be early birds.

4pm home Was looong journey home. Too much traffic and just cars in general really. Great talking about the week though and best moments. Now back home, decided to go and stay at my Gran’s. We have builders in to do our heating system and bathroom and they aren’t as far ahead as hoped. Plastering and bath not fitting problems – eek. Can’t wait for all to be done and can have very first bath in my own home!

Yep, that’s a crazy week in the life of me! Quite enjoyed writing in a Bridget Jones’s style actually. Hope you enjoyed reading and now you have a lovely summary of holiday shenanigans! 🙂

P.s – we didn’t get revenge on the boys! Next time; watch this space! 😉

XSXS

Samantha Gray: The Edge of Cornwall Part 1

I have recently re-read Bridget Jones’s Diary and Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. I was a big fan when the books came out and was equally excited when the films came out (yet, I have realised how different the 2nd film is to the book after re-reading it years later!) I felt the urge to read them again as there is a third book and film in the pipeline and all ‘big pant’ wearing Bridget fans are probably just as eager as me! The idea was to write, what I thought the first chapter would be of the 3rd book, in the style of Bridget. I saw this idea in a Sunday magazine, where lots of writers have done just this. I still plan to do this – BUT, this post is a holiday diary about my recent holiday, written by me, as me but in the style of the Bridget Jones’s books.

 me bridget

Friday 2nd August

Cars to destination 3, Trains to destination 1 (London friend), CDs played in car 4. CDs that wouldn’t play in car 9 (no Britney Spears or Spice Girls for us grrrr!) Bags –  too many! Rooms in mansion 12, Potential Calories in car after food shop 2 million

12 noon. The house in Cornwall. Lovely journey really. Love my lovely friends. In our car there was me, Kenny and my friend, Kath. Lots of fun singing to silly songs and we met the rest of gang for a full English on the motorway (not actually on the road – but you know what I mean!) Service station prices are a complete rip off though! Calories consumed so far: must be over a 1000 (but now officially not counting as on holiday – hurrah!

House we are staying in is wonderful. 12 rooms which include 4 bedrooms, my dream kitchen and a hot tub! Wonder if me and Kenny could buy a house like that one day… mmmm. The girls did the first food shop when we arrived, which was v. amusing. We had to fit about 23 carrier bags in the car, plus 4 boxes of alcohol, luggage and our actual friend, Neil,  who we picked up from the station on route! With sea gull poo on the car too, we felt right at home in Cornwall.

12 midnight Great first night. Girls cooked dinner of pasta and salad – with beer and wine of course. The boys sat in hot tub whilst we cooked, seemed studying Feminism at Uni didn’t pay off mmmmm. Will make sure boys cook tomorrow. Lots of fun and drinks in hot tub after. Yippie.

Saturday 3rd August

Amount of sun burnt bodies 8/8, well-hung horses 1, weird food choice 1 (basil ice-cream – strangely nice!), amount of sand grains returned to house 3 million. Ice-creams consumed 1 (just me – we didn’t all share just 1!)

2pm The beach. Lovely day at the beach. Bit of a goose chase on the way though as had to find beach. Walked for miles, all 8 of us, round a potato field and many other fields! I was regretting wearing flip-flops for this façade but when we got to the beach it was all worth it. Massive waves for us to jump about in and gorgeous sun for us to sit in.  We then all had lunch by the beach – paninis and salad that kept flying about in the sea breeze. Kind of a side of sun burn with our meal, as well felt a bit sore as returned to the house.

3pm back at the house. Turns out the others, who took the scenic route back, saw a very well-hung horse! Photographic evidence was hilarious – you can take the girl out of swad….. talk about seeing the sights of Cornwall!

10.30pm Local restaurant. V. sophisticated meal out – made less so with our oohs and ouches and flinches at our sun burn! My red arm is on fire honestly. It is burning and could have cooked the boys’ steaks on. Ouch. Must remember lots of sun-cream tomorrow.

Sunday 4th August

Times fainted 1. Ambulances called 1, Paramedics 2, souvenirs bought 0, sun rays 0, calories consumed – oh thousands (need to keep strength up!)

8am the house. It’s raining. No need to worry about sun cream or getting burnt today. Doh.

4pm the house. Cannot believe what has just happened. Been a crappy day weather wise, so we have all done our own thing. The lads have hung out together and us girls decided to do some souvenir shopping in town – after a tea and cake of course! Love souvenir shopping! Unfortunately, we didn’t get that far. I fainted in the first shop. Sparked right out on the floor. Was reading quote signs as I collect them. Hadn’t been feeling great all day but put down to lack of sleep and sun stroke.

Ambulance was called and 2 paramedics did some tests on me. Friends were bloody brilliant. Turns out when they heard the crash they exclaimed, ‘Bet that’s Sam, being clumsy again!’ Know me so well They all dropped souvenirs and ran to my side. Tahlee, who is a nurse, gave her expertise first aid and Kath held my legs in air. Was like a dramatic scene out of a soap. Woman even offered close shop! Paramedics said I need go Doctors when return home but seemed fine from the tests. The choc cake I had had helped to raise my blood sugars – hurrah! Always knew choc cake would save my life one day!

Monday 5th August

Times fainted 0 (progress!), animals seen 24, Cornish pasties consumed 1, whales seen 0

11am the last/first house. Went to Land’s End today. Great day and we had a coffee in the ‘last’ (or first) house. Is sweet, as no one will let me go off on my own in case I faint again. Lovely friends. May get a bit annoying after a few days though, being the independent woman that I am! We all thought we saw a whale in the sea. V excited we were too! Lads found it hilarious when we realised was just a rock. I wasn’t convinced for a long while after as was sure it was moving. Mmmm.

5pm went to a little farm at Land’s End too – very cute guinea pigs, sheep, pigs, hens etc. Do love animals, as long as they don’t get too close or smell! We also went to a 4D cinema and was scary. Seat jerked aside and water sprayed in our faces as part of the films. Weird.

11pm Starting to feel back to normal now – as normal as I get anyway (hurrah!) Had some wine tonight and lovely BBQ in garden.

Tuesday 6th August

Mounts belonging to St. Michael seen 1, fish eaten by sea 1 (plus many chips!), dates with Kenny 1, man seen with Lidl tattoo (by friends in scary pirate themed club) 1

11pm the house Realised people of Penzance are weird. My friends saw a man with a lidl tattoo tonight, my first thought was ‘that can’t be real!’ But then I thought… why would you even buy a fake one?! There was a v. annoying woman on the causeway leading to St. Michael’s Mount too. Was on our way back to the shore and the tide had started coming in. She started shouting at everyone coming the other way ‘Don’t you know the tide is coming in?! You’ll get trapped!’ Felt most embarrassed for her, as there is a boat for people to catch back. Ha!

The mount was good, seen it before but always nice to see with friends. Was lot culture and old things. Great views, but had be careful not to faint, as is long way down. Had fish and chips on the beach after. V. good. Me and Kenny went on a date tonight, whilst the others went on  a mad, pirate night out. Date was good. Lovely cosmopolitan and Guinness at a local pub then a meal and a pirate related restaurant. Huge fish pie and Kenny gave me his mushrooms – hurrah! Another weird woman said to me ‘You look nice and feminine in that dress!’ Strange. Does she think I am a man in a girly dress?!

Seemed the others mainly had a good time…. Lidl tattoo and gay club people hitting on them aside. One the lads also took Kath’s duvet. She was not happy. May have something to do with us girls hiding the boys’ beer last night. Oops. Must think of suitable revenge.

To be continued……

XSXS

Life Up Over

Sorry, it’s been a few days folks. I’ve been very busy with mu Aussie relatives and fixing that damn car wiper blade arm (see Driving me to Despair). My Aussie relatives have had a good stay so far and it got me thinking that if we call Australia ‘Down Under’ then when they visit here, do we call it ‘Up Over’? Well they are enjoying their time up over anyway.

I saw them last night for the first time in 7 years. I met them at the Bed and Breakfast they are staying at. I went to meet them in the pub so I could then drive them back to my house for dinner. It was about 6.15 pm when I got there. I couldn’t open the bar door. Typical, I thought. I haven’t seen them in 7 years and I can’t get to them! I can’t even open a door when they have travelled half way across the world! Turns out the pub was closed to the public so that was why. I discovered this when I said to the barman ‘Woah, it’s quiet in here!’ He said, ‘it isn’t quite; we just aren’t open yet!’ Haha. Anyway, seeing my relatives was weird but for only a second. They looked the same as the most recent pics on Facebook and it was like I was talking to my aunty on Facebook chat but without the two screens, oh and thousands of miles, separating us.

You soon start to spot the cultural differences, as subtle as they are. My aunty said she thought I was very brave for driving round the small, hilly, villages with a manual car. Quite frankly, I don’t know any different. I know we have some automatic cars over here but in Oz they all are pretty much. My Dad gave his ‘clutch’ foot a huge rest when he drove over there in 2005. The thing was, I actually used to want an automatic because I struggled so much with the clutch when I was learning to drive (it took me 18 months worth of lessons to pass… that is many other stories for another time!) So for her to say I was brave for driving round in a manual car was quite nice. I had finally for there!!

I cooked dinner for them plus my Mum, Dad, sister and her boyfriend. It was nice to catch up. My aunty actually had some sad news yesterday, which she told us about. Her step father died rather suddenly that morning and her Mum told her that day. Typical that something like that happens when she is on the other side of the earth. Not a lot she could do and her Mum didn’t want them to cut the holiday short and go home. Very sad news though.

We had many topics of conversation through the evening. One was how to pronounce the city of ‘Derby’ as they were visiting there the next day. We say ‘dar-by’ don’t we? My uncle pointed out that it should be said like ‘der’ as in ‘der, how stupid are you!’ It makes sense if you think about it. i was just trying to find some examples to prove this point. ‘Deranged’ sort of is but it seems that we say ‘de-ranged’ so we pronounce the ‘de’ separately. Like in ‘derisive’ or ‘derail’.Even more complicated! And the query came from an Aussie who also speak English! God knows what second language English speakers. I think we make things more complicated on purpose.

Another thing my Aussie relatives find funny is thhe fact we have a meat product called ‘faggots’. This comes up every time! It also means gay. We have that meaning too but they only know it as that. So if we say we are having faggots for dinner, then it is highly hilarious to them. Just as when I mentioned that they call flip-flops ‘thongs’. Meaning can definitly be misconstrued there too!

They also find the names of beers and pubs funny. My aunty was telling me that when she was over here years ago with a friend, they found a pub called ‘The Nun’s Passage’ and then they started to drink a beer called ‘Bishop’s finger’. So they would say ‘Let’s go for a Bishop’s finger in the Nun’s Passage!’ Gotta love the English for puns and sexual innuendos.

Our town is tiny so when they said they had been there yesterday, me and the pub owner laughed when I went to meet them. We joked that had they seen all the charity shops (Aussie’s call them ‘Op’ shops) and the card shops! I then had recommendations that they go to Ann Summers (our fun and slightly rude shop) and also look out for the blue building that is the rowing club where my boyfriend rows. Those are some sights to see! Our little town doesn’t have a lot to offer but we are lucky because we aren’t far away from a lot of pretty places. I would love to take them to Lincoln. I lived there for three years when I was at Uni and would love to show them the Uni, the castle, the cathedral and even more historic, the places I used to live! Working in a school though, as huge number of weeks off we get, we can’t choose when to have a week off. So, I’ll have to wait til they return when I am off school and can go out with them in the day too.

But they have the rest of my family to go out with and I hope they enjoy the rest of their visit Up Over!

XSXS

Deliveries from Down Under

I am sat here talking to my Aussie relative on Facebook who is waiting to be picked up for her flight to the UK! Very exciting and gave me  a great topic to talk about today.

We didn’t know we had these relatives just over a decade ago. She was researching her family tree (on my Mum’s side) and found relatives in Australia. This wasn’t a great surprise as we have lots of relatives over there – or ‘rellies’ as the Aussies call it! – my gran’s sister for one and her family and also aunties etc.  But I think of them as aunt, uncle and cousins. Can never have enough aunties can ya? 😉 Anyway, we didn’t know who they were to start with and had the name of my Aussie aunty’s great-grandmother. But my Aussie aunty just so happened to phone my gran one day. She found the surname and randomly circled some of them and it was her fourth call that gained her some extra family. Turns out her great-grandmother, who we had the name of, was the sister of my granddad’s granddad! Woah.

I remember thinking it seemed a little bit too good to be true and felt quite wary. We started talking to them via phone and email. They seemed really nice and down to earth but it still felt quite surreal. They planned to visit the next year, which was 2003. I remember feeling a bit odd about them staying at my gran’s. I thought ‘god they could be criminals – you hear about the aboriginals!’ It was the whole not meeting them thing and of course they had to visit in order for us to get to know them. My aunty came on her own that visit and we all got on well and she met everyone she needed to meet and saw lots of the UK.

Three years later, we went to visit them. Christmas 2005. I was in my second year at Uni, as I remember I had to take some books with me to study whilst I was there! Christmas was odd in Australia. I got sunburnt on a boat trip on Christmas eve! And we had a BBQ for Christmas day dinner! It was great though and we met they rest of the family. I also got to see santa in shorts, which was a definite novelty! Other things that I thought were odd – there was no proper Marmite and the chocolate didn’t taste as good (even though it said Cadbury’s on the wrapper) and they called flip-flops ‘thongs’. I had to remind myself that they weren’t on about wearing a tiny piece of underwear on the beach! Haha. Upsides of course were meeting the family, the weather (even though it was the coldest summer on record for them – it was still very hot for us Brits!) and seeing come great places.

As for spiders….. my hugest fear ever… I didn’t see any! I was oddly disappointed. I went to the other side of the world and expected to see a huge spider. Maybe it would put the UK ones into perspective or it would have cured my fear, I don’t know. Not one black furry leg in sight! The closest thing to anything scary I saw was a shedded skin of a snake. I hope they don’t bring any with them – I’m not that bothered about seeing them!

As my family get ready to come for a visit tomorrow (my aunty and uncle are both coming this time. My sister went to visit them last year but other than that they haven’t seen us since 2005!) my friend is also coming back to the UK soon after being there for a year. I had this vision of them all being  on the same ‘return to the UK’ plane haha – as if there is only one a year! In reality of course, they are coming weeks apart. My friend, though, was very homesick when she first went to Oz a year ago but soon settled in to life down under and now doesn’t want to come home (with weather like this, I dont blame her!)

But I am very much looking forward to catching up with all the Aussie goss from my friend and family. And asking them if water does in fact go down the plughole the other way over there? People always go on about that don’t they?!

See you tomorrow….(UK and Aussie time!)

xx

Sweet like Chocolate

Since it is the weekend and we are all in the mood for a treat, I just had to share with you a highlight of our holiday. Visiting a chocolate factory in Switzerland! Mmmmmm…..

We drove over to Switzerland from Evian one day and paid 10 euros to get into to the Nestle factory. It turns out Nestle, a French guy and also Cailler, a Swiss guy (maybe?) joined forces to make a company. Of course over here, we have Nestle and I seem to recognise Cailler too? What you think?

We learnt all about the history of the company and how chocolate was made. We even got to try the ingredients, like the cocoa butter, nuts, almonds and cocoa beans…

Me trying a very bitter cocoa bean!

We got to see the chocolates being made.. as the chocolate gets mixed and then made into sizeable chunks….

My kind of machinery!

If you have ever been to Cadbury’s World you will know that you also learn about the history of the chocolate and how it is made. You also get to take some chocolates away with you to eat – but that’s just like having free bars as is from a shop. Even though I must admit, they also had a room where you got a free pot of melted chocolate and could choose you own sweet/crumble/biscuit topping – that was pretty cool. But at this chocolate factory there was an actual tasting room to try every type of chocolate that they make. A way for me to easily get my 10 euros back haha. I felt a bit like I was at Willy Wonka’s factory without the shrinking or blowing up like a blueberry part. It was great, there was a whole row of just milk, dark, white and nutty solid chocolates. That was to ease you in because you went round the other side and there was all the fancy pants stuff like truffles, caramels and lovely soft centred ones. That was my lunch that day – it was soooo good!

The Tasting Room. Remember if you recognise any of these lucky choc munchers, like I mentioned in my post Photographic Memories on Friday, then let me know!

Yummy, oh just one more then!

So yes it was a great day and I fully recommend this if you are over that part of the world. It is definitely worth the ten euros. In comparison to Cadbury’s World (which I also fully recommend and one that I would definitely go to again since I live in that part of the country) it is cheaper but the tour isn’t as long and there isn’t quite as much to see. But the tasting room, as I say, is definitely worth it and you can spend as long as you want int there. There is also advice on how to taste and saviour the chocolate properly haha… I tried that ‘advice’ for like two chocolates and then gobbled the rest. To me chocolate is best in chunks, dipped into a hot mug of tea so that it melts… Mmmmmm….

The best question that came up that day was:

As you can see the translation underneath… For you, when is it time for chocolate? This was a room with a writing shelf so that you could write your answer and then fasten it to a display board. I answered… ‘anytime, anywhere!’  What would you say?

I have used lots of photos today, as you can see. That is because I can describe the gorgeous, velvety chocolate in thousands of words but I think you need to see it to fully appreciate its glory!

Enjoy a nice evening with a chocolate or two… or what am I kidding, five at least!

See you tomorrow,

XSXS

 

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