Always the bridesmaid, never the bride!

One of the great things about working in the aviation industry is that you do get to visit a lot of places. Over the years working for various airlines, ground handlers and an aviation technology company, I have put a lot of pins on the map.

Ok, at the moment it’s all a bit in abeyance and in the past six months where I might reasonably expected to have been in numerous European countries, the middle East and possibly USA…my travel has been limited to Aldi, Lidl and the Co Op in my local town..but hey ho, I am not alone in that respect of a changed life!

Travelling is great , I love it and I never forget to be grateful and aware of my privilege of having these opportunities even if they don’t return in the future.

However it isn’t always quite as wonderful as it sounds. I was asked by a friend recently had I ever visited Johannesburg? …I had to think a lot and answer realistically.

My trip there had been out on a flight for 9 hours, walk through the terminal to the airport hotel. I then attended a meeting (included refreshments: one cup of coffee!) After the meeting, straight to bed in same hotel, and up again six hours later for flight back to UK!

It gets better….a quick flight one morning to a European capital to attend a meeting with a Low Cost Airline. On arrival I was met at gate by pleasant but anxious young man tasked with getting me to the airline office by car across the ramp area. Lots of phone calls but still no (airside) transport arrived..he was very apologetic at this point. Then a phone call or two was then reassured that alternate transport would arrive. After some more minutes waiting – it surely did arrive…a toilet truck!

I do this job purely for the glamour!

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!!!!!

Beach Blanket Babylon Boulevard


Although my parents and teachers always told me they didn’t have favourites and favouritism is basically a bad thing,  I do break the rules when it comes to street names.   Beach Blanket Babylon Boulevard is definitely top of my list.  Its actually a street in San Francisco, perhaps not surprisingly. 

Nobody has ever really been able to explain where the name derives from – I get the Beach Blanket bit. I could also almost accept the Boulevard part as well,  although as far as I can recollect,  it doesn’t really resemble  Boulevards as one thinks of them in Paris or Berlin i.e.  a wide street with majestic buildings, often trees and sometimes side carriageways.  Let’s not even start on the Babylon part…… but despite all that I love the name.  I believe there is a quite a famous stage show of the same name and also now a couple of restaurants in London as well also using that name.

As with any favourites,  it is good too to have a second choice or backup…for me that street is Wych Elm Rise.

I haven’t really researched if there are multiple variants on this in different towns.  

This one is is in middle class, leafy Guildford in Surrey, England. Well one would expect Elm trees to feature in a leafy town!

Guildford gets many adjectives and descriptors. A town in the Stockbroker belt is one of them – the town certainly has more than its share of well heeled commuters at the station each morning heading to their city jobs on the train.


I realise that anyone not an native English speaker is probably now lost in a web of confusion with all these adjectives – ‘well heeled’? we could just say wealthy but the etymologists will show a link to good shoes being a sign of prosperity; leafy, we could just say nice streets with trees and so on.  But of course the English language at times is designed to confuse! 

 Only yesterday one of my very ‘English fluent’  German colleagues asked me why my ‘out of office message’ on my e-mail said I was taking a days annual leave.

To him that was a complete contradiction – I am  taking  a day off not a year off!

So back to Wych Elm Rise – why do I like that name?  I used to live on a road adjacent to it (called Warwicks Bench…but that’s another story)   and when giving a friend directions to find the house,  on hearing the Street name he was convinced I was giving him a crossword clue (14. Across.   Scottish origin tree on slope,  11 letters).


I could very easily do a top 10 of favourite street names, but for now I will just leave you with number 3.  Nothing at all cryptic or exotic about this one.  It is Hill Street in Glasgow (and I’m sure there are many other Hill Streets in the world)

I had to walk up this hill every day to go to  secondary school and it often vexed me that the great Victorian city planners of Glasgow (which unusually for a UK city is based on a grid system like so many US cities) couldn’t come up with anything more imaginative!

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Saint Pancras

For those not of a religious nature and in fact those without a specific knowledge of 14th century saints, the name St Pancras means nothing, other than it being a somewhat magnificent London Railway Terminus.For those who may want to know more, St Pancras became a saint due to his martyrdom and rebellion against the Romans in defence of the Christian faith. He is not really a top ten rated saint compared to Animal loving St Francis, travel insurance expert St Christopher, snake repelling St Patrick and many others who get regular top billing both in the church and popular literature and films. Anyway if a St Pancras question comes up at quiz night, you will be the hero of your team now. St Pancras station however really is out there making a name for itself. This magnificent building which has a gothic cathedral like appearance from the outside was constructed in the 1860’s and was in good use for the first 100 years of its life but fell into gradual decline from the 1960’s and was nearly derelict by the 1970’s with only a small number of departures to the Midlands of England with most other services having been moved for various reasons to other stations nearby such as next door neighbour modernist Kings Cross,and near neighbours St Marylebone and Euston.Then a stroke of luck…the newly created international services of Eurostar to Paris and Brussels needed a larger terminus; the newly created high speed domestic trains to the Kent coast likewise, and also some other commuter services needed a station that could accomdate increased train lengths introduced due to traffic growth.That’s just the background and the ‘raison d’etre’ for the stations rebirth.And what a transformation….light, sculptures, classy shops, restaurants and champagne bars truly have brought the romance back to train travel.The full story of this transformation is worth a read…well documented on Wikipedia. For those not looking for the detail….just try to visit it if ever you are in London. You really won’t be disappointed.

The only way is….

TV viewers of a certain generation in the UK will be familiar with TOWIE. For those not in that demographic, its a reality TV programme, ‘The Only Way Is Essex’ following lives of 20 somethings living and nightclubbing around Romford, a London suburb but actually in the neighbouring county of Essex and holidaying in Magaluf and Benidorm.

Full of stereotypes and predictable storylines of who has cheated on who, and who has had what cosmetic surgery!

Why mention this…well I informed a German colleague that I was going to a family celebration in the county and he said ah yes, I have seen it on satellite TV.

I felt an explanation was required!

TOWIE… So is this a representation of Essex life?To a degree yes but it’s a large county and go to the other end…i.e. the bit not bordering London and you find picturesque villages more akin to John Constable country than dodgy nightclubs!

I am a bit biased..having lived at the London end, but having family connections in some of the more rural parts, that’s where I would always want to be. Even the district names remind you of the deep history of the place .

The Essex seaside towns of Clacton, Frinton and Walton in are in a district called the Tendering Hundred. Why? Hundred was unit of English local government and taxation,an intermediate between a village and shire, which survived into the 19th century. Originally, the term probably referred to a group of 100 hides (units of land required to support one peasant family)

I could write so much more about the good side of the county…but that will take time….

And on the subject of hundreds…my last subscriber was number 100…I was amazed when I had one so to have 100 of you I feel flattered and humbled.

I appreciate that not every post, is for everyone but I sincerely hope that in my 100 plus posts to date, there has been someting that at some point has amused or informed you….or perhaps just made you glad you don’ t live in the UK!

With my heartfelt thanks for hopefully enjoying what I write…….

The Three Bears

When it comes to porridge making, the three bears really have the market sown up.

Not for them the concept of one size fits all.

Want a big Daddy size bear portion? …sure we can do that. Want it quite sweet, just as Mama bears likes it?…of course, not a problem. Temperature, naturally we can serve it ‘not too hot, not too cold’. Although it’s never been officially documented, I am told Goldilocks gave them a 5* Trip Advisor rating in her most recent review.

Sadly though, for most of us, stopping off at the cottage in the woods is just not an option for us as we journey through life and have a need for sustinence.

My day job from time to time necessitates me travelling by train and a fate will often dictate me just missing a train and having an hours wait for the next one meaning a late evening arrival home.

Now one hour is questionably not long enough to exit the station, find a restaurant, order food, wait for food, eat food , request bill, wait for bill, pay bill…and then hot foot it back to the station.

Simple answer…fast food? Hmmm..well maybe, but I think I said goodbye to actually enjoying McDonald’s, KFC or even the more upmarket 5 Guys after it becoming an inevitable ‘go to’ for sustenance when in need on just too many occasions.

That’s not to say they don’t serve a purpose..but it’s not for me.

So back to the Three Bears.. how do you find something that’s not to slow to prepare, gets served to your table by friendly and personable staff and you actually can have a potato that doesn’t have to be of the chipped variety?

Well somewhat late in my life I discovered Nandos. I appreciate people from across the globe read this blog and Nandos are big…but not global. For those who haven’t experienced it, in summary they are South African-Portuguese themed Peri Peri chicken restaurants.

Fast food style, but table service and restaurant ambience. They can be found in UK, North America, Middle East , India and South Africa. Ok perhaps not for everybody but if you were like me and had assumed they were ‘not for you ‘…you may be pleasantly surprised! And if you do want chips..they do them too,as well as mash and a host of other choices!

And for the avoidance of doubt I have no commercial or affiliation with them…I just thought it worth sharing this…

Enjoying my blog?…yes the subjects are varied and esoteric ..but so is life! Happy saturday

Bath time ….lights, camera, action!

I unexpectedly made a visit to the city of Bath last weekend. As is often the case, it’s the short unplanned visits to places that are sometimes the best ones. I only had a short time for a walk before our restaurant reservation for dinner, but the dappled evening sun reminded me how much I like this place and made me question why we don’t visit there more. As is always the case the answer is simple …we are spoilt in the UK with so many places like this just a few hours away, we become totally nonchalant about them.

If you have never been (…and if you live in the UK) that’s perhaps no surprise as people often see it as another York, Harrogate or Cheltenham ..but where it trumps these is that you are literally tripping over wonderful buildings, Roman Baths, history and Jane Austen literary heritage at a far greater density per square mile than the previously mentioned towns. If you are from outside the UK and made a touring visit of major UK places …it was probably on your itinerary as it is just a short drive from Stonehenge, Avebury and many other gems.

There is much to see in Bath but you can cover a lot in one of the free walking tours or (not so free!) city bus tours.

Even the ‘ordinary’ buildings that populate both the city centre and suburban streets are a real joy to the eye.

Bath Abbey is one of the sights thst draws the crowds, but if you can …just meander in the small streets and alleys ..they will not fail to please.

Any downsides?…not really…easy to get to with plenty of car parks, and worth noting is the out of town park and ride…as the city layout can be confusing even with the assistance of Sat Nav/GPS.

It is not surprisingly, a film makers paradise and we wandered into one of the city squares somewhat surprised to see it looking so ‘historic’ until we realised we were ‘on set’ , unfortunately not looking anything like the Jane Austen characters around us….oops!!!!!…. nice job for the editor to remove the imposters😁

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How to be a breakfast chef – use your mobile

I am sure I am not alone in my frustration with seeing couples or sometimes entire families at tables in restaurants all deeply engrossed in their phones. To me it seems a real waste of time to share and engage with others.

Now don’t get me wrong…I am a big user of my phone with a blog to write (!), friends to be kept in contact with, places to find and a desire to know what is going on in the world. But I do choose my moments – train journeys, waiting in airports, coffee stops (if I am alone) all provide good opportunities to do the electronic conversations!

So true to my word, last week I was in a hotel walking down to breakfast and decided to use that moment to quickly respond to a What’s App message. Well as most women know, men and multi-tasking aren’t always found in the same place ….and that sure applies to me. Walking purposely into the hotel’s restaurant, a place I am familiar with having stayed several times before, I was a bit too purposeful and instead of making a sharp left as I entered as I should have, I just kept walking. Now this is quite a sizeable and modern restaurant with an open kitchen but behind counters which the customers can see, but are separated from the various chefs and kitchen staff as they prep the food and prepare customers special order breakfast items .

I suddenly found myself amongst chefs supervising pans of frying eggs, juicers squeezing fruit and everything else needed for the delivery of this hotels impressive buffet.

Bemused faces everywhere…bearing in mind my attire – suit, laptop bag and phone in my hand they may have thought this was a dawn raid from the International Scrambled Eggs Standards body or some other such authority!

This event took place in Muscat, and as anyone who has visited will know, the Omani people and their guest workers are polite, friendly and welcoming people….so no screams of get out of my kitchen…just smiles, good morning greetings and best wishes for good breakfast.

And just for the record it was!!!

Carpe Diem

To the non Latin speaker, this is probably a fancy fish restaurant in a trendy part of town, but to those who have learnt a few such useful phrases of this ancient language, it of course means seize the day. To regular readers of my blog, I am a big exponent of grab it while you can…for anything in life ….as we never know what’s around the corner in terms of health, opportunity or just ‘stuff’ that can throw a wobble into life.

What is ‘it’?…’it’ is doing things that enriches your life and hopefully others as well….and that doesn’t always involve spending money. Unless you live in a hermits cabin, generally there are things out there in the world that are waiting for you! Be that volunteering, walking around in your countryside or city, trying new foods, feeding the ducks,or just engaging with different people.

I do realise I am very fortunate in that I have a job that takes me to different places (..and not many people have that opportunity) This week work took me to the UAE and it gave me the opportunity to catch up with a friend and former colleague recently relocated and living there. Now if I had to nominate a role model for my philosophy of life….. it is her! She is already one of the most well travelled people I know, and in this new geographic position she can weekend in India, take a short trip to Nepal or even get to the Far East…which becomes not so far east anymore! From updates I have already had when she first moved it seems she really is grabbing every opportunity not just to travel, but to explore the new city she lives in, make new friends and that’s four legged as well as two legged as she has found a dogs home that wants volunteer walkers! So already now she has just about every weekend and holidays allocated to something new. Anyway we managed to find time to meet up between work and her travels. So research was done to find somewhere new to go. Where did we find ourselves? …on Happiness Street…which I think says it all!

Lost taxi

Athens is a wonderful city.

Home to some wonderful architecture, ruins, sights, sounds and smells; generally very friendly and welcoming people (about 3 million of them) and 14,000 taxis. Yes, more than New York city which has only 13,000!

The taxis in Athens are yellow too and again like in New York it also can be an experience! On a recent work trip to Athens I decided to go to my hotel by taxi rather than train as it was already 11pm . Jumping in a taxi at the airport I got a welcoming smile but a puzzled look by the young driver as I gave him my hotel name and the street address.

Now this was a relatively well known hotel in a smart district but it was certainly a first for him. Anyway we set off but after 2 minutes he then asked me did I have GPS. I was a little surprised he had no phone of his own or was unwilling to use it. Anyway mine was put into service and balancing it on his knee, off we went. I actually had another phone with me as well (my work phone) and for good measure also put same request into that. After a while of frequent ‘recalculated journeys’ messages it became evident the ‘phone balanced on knee technique’ was not a big success in terms of navigation or road safety. So plan B was me in the back of the car telling him when to turn left, right and on one occasion STOP! This new plan worked and we shortly pulled up outside the hotel.

He then told me the fare which was duly paid by me and I asked for my receipt. Not possible he said pointing at the printer in the car (I assumed out of order)

Ok, I said how about just one of your advert cards that you can write the fare on? (This by the way is not always a good move..I did this in Italy a while back and it was presented to me on a card advertising a lap dancing establishment! Our company accountant has never quite looked at me in the same way since)

Anyway still no joy. So I made the point of no receipt, no fare can be paid as I won’t be able to reclaim. This focussed the mind and a brief phone call to his boss…it seems he did have a phone after all!

Finally Greek ingenuity then took over…he scrambled around the not so clean taxi floor until he found a receipt for that day for a similar amount (it was a few euros less) then gave me some money back to reconcile the exact amount and then handed a slightly worn and crumpled receipt over! …what could I say.

Only in Athens!