Dummies guide to?

As I write this, its the Late Summer Bank Holiday Weekend in most of the UK …..but not Scotland…they are holding out until September for theirs. And theirs is known as the September Weekend…no Marketing consultants or focus groups for naming things required here folks!

Unfortunately, so far it is actually the coldest August Bank Holiday weekend for 20 years according to the weather statisticians. Forget any ideas of picnics, walking in the moors, trips to the sea or al fresco dining of any kind. What the weather did invite however was a trip to our nearby independent bookshop.

Our local town Holmfirth (known to many 40+ year olds in the UK and perhaps beyond, for the Fictional TV Series ‘Last of the Summer Wine’) has a good mix of craft shops, eateries, cafes, independent stores and a recent addition of a small bookshop.

As covered in a previous blog, Bank Holidays are a somewhat curious quirk of the uk and yet another example of our use of the English language using a term that is blindingly obvious to us native speakers, but very confusing to others.

Yes for sure the bank staff get a holiday on these days but so do many other people in industry , commerce, education and government but of course not those in essential services or indeed shop workers who rely in some ways on the rest of us not being at work to give them some added footfall through their shop doors.

So on the subject of shops, back to this one. There is actually not a moments doubt as to what is sold in this shop….. it is books …its called Read. Holmfirth is a tourist destination so even for non native speakers you will know what the offering is here.

Its a great little bookshop with well selected fiction (and many of the books are signed) The only downside is, you may have to queue to get in…its not a huge shop, and with current social distancing rules, if one family enter the store that’s it…until they vacate to make a space for you

It did strike me that actually very few shops in the UK have such a simple and obvious name. We rely on tourism in many parts of this country so why not make things a bit easier for visitors?

Ok, for those of you who are UK residents or at least familiar with the UK High Street you are now reeling off a list of names and brands that provide ‘what it says on the tin’, so as to speak. Yes, I too can think of a few UK examples past and present : ‘eat’ is a chain of outlets that sell …yes, eat in and take away eats; Toys ‘r’ Us, (sadly departed) , ‘Patisserie Valerie‘ (ok, of course Patisserie is a French word, but you get the idea) , The Perfume Shop and so on.

However the ones that may confuse a non native speaker are far more commonplace: ‘Curry’s’ are not a restaurant selling Indian food, but are an electrical goods retailer; ‘Boots’ are a chemist with not a chance of any footwear being on sale other than perhaps a Dr Scholl sandal; ‘Lakeland’ – garden pond accessories? …sorry, its a cookware retailer; ‘Jigsaw’ – not a single children’s puzzle for sale here. You get the idea……

Anyway, this is just nothing compared to what we at least historically named our pubs (and our beer!) …but that’s another story for another blog for another day.

I’m off to the Bulls Head for a Pint of Old Peculiar now……….

A nice mini break, shame about the aliens

This last week we had planned to be in Holland and Germany visiting family. Quarantine rules however meant that trip has had to be postponed so we rather rapidly formulated an alternative of a few days away in the Ribble Valley in Lancashire, England.

Like many things that are on your ‘doorstep’ one does just not appreciate them as they are so near and always accessible. We live in the neighbouring but rival county of Yorkshire and are just only an hour or so away. away.

The War of the Roses might have ended in 1485, but as far as many locals are concerned, it might as well still be going on today. Certainly in terms of Sport and pride about who has the finest countryside, notable persons and so on.

The Ribble Valley really has it all. Beautiful countryside, lots of walks and plentiful pubs and tea shops.

Any downsides? None other than we were convinced we were being followed home by Aliens one night as we drove back from dinner at the wonderful Inn at Whitwell.

Strange lights were illuminating the sky and appeared to be chasing us. You may be assuming this was just the effect of too much red wine, but our designated driver consuming only water also experienced the same. Having seen the Northern Lights, I knew it wasn’t that (although it was similar, but only white light, not the wonderful colours of the Aureora Borealis). So we were genuinely mystified.

Fortunately our Air bnb hostess was able to help us as we shared our bizarre experience with her on returning that evening. She too had observed the same one day earlier that week and likewise had the view that aliens were following her home. She did however have the answer once she had shared the experience with local friends. It seemed there was an outdoor music event nearby with a strange lighting system of an array of searchlights that were literally lighting up the clouds above us! So no close encounters of the Third kind!

Splash…it’s bath time

I always enjoy my visit to the hairdresser and this is despite me being someone who in the past as an awkward teenager suffered from Tonsurephobia.

Tonsurephobia apart from being a 15 point word in Scrabble, is the fear of getting a haircut. The word Tonsurephobia is derived from Greek words ‘Tonsure’ meaning ‘ to cut’ and ‘Phobos’ meaning ‘deep dread or aversion’. To be fair for me it wasn’t the loss of hair that was the issue, but the need for conversation with a twenty something smart and worldwide girl when I was an awkward 15 year old. Anyway, that was then…I am no longer aged 15!

So these days I enjoy the conversation. Sophie my hairdresser is always interested in where my work travel has taken me over the last 5 or 6 weeks. So I often will list off places such as London, Milan, Berlin, Muscat, Dubai and so on.

So last week…same question and all I could come up with was home, Aldi and Morrisons . (For those not familiar with the UK..both of these are supermarkets!) Suddenly I felt my ‘reputation’ as one of her most well travelled clients erode into one of her most likely serial and obsessive supermarket shoppers.

I realise much later that evening that I had actually omitted to tell her about the one interesting journey I had made in the past weeks was to the City of Bath.

I have been to Bath many times and this most recent visit was a real flying one, to quickly help someone with a house move.

Bath is a beautiful city, just awash with beautiful buildings, an awesome park in the city centre and more Georgian Terraces of house than you can shake a stick at. Pubs, restaurants, wine bars and coffee shops abound and you would be hardpressed not to be able to find things to suit taste and budget. So what’s not to like? Really only the city’s narrow street and the impact on through traffic. A geographically short journey can take a long time!!!!!

Finally, I am recognised for my lack of talent

Last weekend in the UK nature brought us blue skies, a gentle breeze and warmth in the sunshine, so a perfect day to get on and get some work done in the garden.

Planning on being out there the best part of a whole day, I made sure my phone was in my pocket and turned on. I even diligently got my phone out from time to time to make sure I had not missed calls when using my somewhat loud strimmer and even noisier lawn mower.

However unbenown to me, when replacing said phone in my pocket, I actually touched the Facebook icon, opened the app, and then made a post consisting of a stream of random keyboard characters!

Oblivious to this, I carried on working and about an hour later stopped for a cold drink and checked my phone for messages.

An urgent What’s App from my daughter: “Dad, I think your phone has been hacked and someone has been using your Facebook to make some posts, I am sure they are not from you”

You can imagine my panic I quickly checked the posts expecting to find adverts for Russian Mail Order Brides, Investment Opportunities for Nigerian businessman with a surplus $1 million that they need my help with or recommendations for magic potions to improve parts of me to make me even more desirable to the above mentioned mail order bride!

Anyway I was very relieved to find out it was none of the above but just a random post of gibberish like someone’s left over scramble letters!

What did surprise me though was that this pointless post attracted much interest from my friends and got a number of ‘Like’s.

In fact more likes than I would normally get for a post.

It actually quite troubled me as it suggests this far exceeds the quality then of what I more regularly post!