Maladjusted?

Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Hola!

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Hola!!  Como esta??  Como te llama??  Me llama Laura!! 

We don’t need no stiiiiinnkiiiing badges…

No I’m not have a meltdown – I’m going to Cuba.  And in preparation for my epic trip I’m attempting to pick up a few palabras in Spanish.

I’m not feeling hopeful.  In a few weeks of study (CD + spanish lessons at the local college) I have not progressed beyond saying my name, where I’m from and ordering beer…and I suspect that I might need a little more than this in order to get by.

Worryingly I also don’t seem to be able to say anything in Spanish without adopting a comedy ‘hey gringo’ Mexican accent. It’s not intentional – it’s just the way my brain makes spanish words come out of my mouth.  I sound like the Mexican bandit from Blazing Saddles.

So, with less than a  month before I depart, please please please if anyone has any advice on how to get some ‘proper’ Spanish into my thick noggin I’d love to hear it.

Otherwise, I fear that I run the risk of spending two weeks sounding like a racist simpleton with a booze problem.

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Written by Lores

April 16, 2011 at 10:44 am

Plotting my escape

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It is time for change, (and not ‘change’ as in loose coins).   A change of scenery, a change of situation, a change of gear (and not ‘gear’ as in clothing)

I’m taking a couple of weeks off in April to do a little bit of pottering about.  I intend to potter over to Europe for a bit, to visit some friends (couch surfing!), and generally mooch about.  All on a shoestring I might add, as I’m stoney broke.

So far on my ‘hit list’ are;

Bruges – because I haven’t been there, but it looks absolutely beautiful.  Also, I believe that if I hang around the main square for long enough then I may bump into Colin Farrell’s character from the film ‘In Bruges‘ (which really wasn’t that bad a film).  Actually I may prefer to bump into Ralph Fiennes rather than Colin Farrell…but I digress.

From Bruges I’ll take the train (via Brussels) to Luxembourg, where a friend of mine lives (whom I haven’t seen for 5 years)  Luxembourg is one of those places that you probably wouldn’t go to unless you actually knew someone.  I can’t imagine there is a lot to do there, so I’m expecting to drink a lot of beer.

From Luxembourg I have a couple of options.  I may head into Deutschland for a day, or I may head up to the Ardennes (home of pate)  and stay in a youth hostel.  I think it really depends on how my money goes at this stage.

Ultimately though, after this stage of the jaunt, I’ll take the train to Paris to visit some friends who moved there last year, and also drop in on the ex boyfriend to see how he is doing.

And from Paris, the Eurostar back to Blighty.

I think that should be time enough to blow away the cobwebs.  I don’t mind travelling on my own really, I don’t fear my own company and I am more than able to idle away time.  However it will be jolly nice to see old friends and do something a bit different.

Written by Lores

March 10, 2010 at 10:43 am

Coach Trip…

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Last weekend I spent a long, rain-soaked, weekend in the South West of England with my aunt and a coach load of elderly folk.  I was literally the youngest person on this trip by a good 30 years, (my aunt being the second youngest at 57), and the whole experience is something that I won’t be repeating in a hurry.  Here’s what happened: 

Coach Travel
For starters, coach travel in general is not very nice.  On a coach you have about the same amount of room as cattle being exported across the continent, and possibly the same toilet facilities – I think my muscles atrophied on the journey due to the cramped conditions.  You are also completely at the mercy of the coach driver the whole time, and the coach driver in this instance was an alarming chap who looked as if he had worked as a Butlins red coat for most of his life before getting kicked out for being too old and tired.  You know the type – permenant fake smile plastered all over face, jovial yet slightly patronising manner, and the trapped look in the eyes of a man who knows that he has probably wasted his life.  His idea of ‘entertainment’ was to put on the film version of Mamma Mia! (to the delight of all the old dears who clapped along).  I hate Abba.  I especially hate being made to listen to the songs of Abba against my will. (Note: if you have never seen this film – just don’t.  It’s rubbish.)

Hotel…
So after a 6 hour coach journey, punctuated with frequent toilet breaks, and rubbish movies, we arrived at the hotel in Torquay which could have actually been the set of Fawlty Towers.  While the staff were pleasant enough, there were drafty corridors, creaking floor boards, peeling wall paper, and the lingering smell of damp everywhere you went.  But the real highlight for me were the truly horrendous Christmas decorations strewn about the place.  Dusty tree, dull baubles, and a ‘haunted’ father Christmas Each (see right) which looked like it might walk around the building at night. Hideous.   

Snoring…
However, it wasn’t the damp, the chill in the air or the fear of being torn apart by possessed Christmas decorations the meant I didn’t get much rest that weekend.  It was actually the noise produced by my sleeping roommate.  Now, I love my Aunt, I really do – but I spent a considerable amount of time on both nights that we shared a room thinking up different ways to kill her, or at least mute her.  She snores like a freight train.  On the second night I was so desperate for sleep that I resorted to fashioning ear plugs out of wet toilet tissue to block out the din.  I kid you not. 

Eden Project…
However, the Eden Project was absolutely stunning, and left me with a burning desire to visit a Brazilian rain forest for real (I’ll just add that one to the list of other places that I want to visit before I die…).  I would recommend a visit to everyone, and you can see some of the pictures from the trip here.

The pitfalls of travelling with old people (when you are not old yourself)…

  • Toilet breaks – too many frequent stops en route meant a much longer travel time than by car
  • Calamities – seem to frequently befall the elderly.  On this trip there was a tumble-down some stairs, a put out back, and two of the party were lost for 20 minutes trying to relocate the coach
  • Boarding / Alighting time:  So much extra time needed to be factored into the schedule just to accommodate the slowness of all 40 people to get on and off the coach. 

The joys of travelling with old people (when you aren’t old yourself)…

  • They are a friendly bunch
  • They can complain more than me…and I love to complain (as you can tell from this blog post), and I am in good company with other complainers.  (The weather was the most talked about thing on the coach)
  • Elderly people get drunk easily and therefore cause lots of amusement in hotel bars
  • You don’t run out of travel sweets

The perfect end to a perfect weekend… 
On the way back to London we stopped off in Bath for a few hours, which was nice (apart from the deluge of rain which had pretty much followed us around for the whole drip).  When we got back onto the coach the driver informed us that on the way back to London we would be stopping for a break at a service station located just 10 miles from my flat.  ‘What a bonus’ I thought, and called V to pick me up from there (saving me the journey back from the coach’s final destination which was around 30 miles away).  The coach stopped, I alighted (case in hand) and waved the coach off into the night.  After waiting 30 minutes or so for V to arrive I realised that something was wrong with the situation.  A few enquiries later, it transpired that I was actually at the Reading M4 service station – 60 miles from where I live in London – not the local service station to me.  The coach driver had either lied or changed his mind and didn’t think to tell me.  Perhaps it was to get me back from not laughing at his jokes or not singing along to Mamma Mia!  Either way – a very disgruntled V had a very long trip to come and pick me up and take me home again.  A perfect end to a perfect weekend.

So what I have taken away from this experience:

  1. To pack ear plugs when sharing a hotel room with someone.
  2. Never, ever, believe what a coach driver says ever again
  3. Pay attention to my surroundings / location at all times 
  4. To never recommend the film Mamma Mia! to anyone I like (and to recommend it a lot to people I don’t like)
  5. And finally, to wait until I am old and crumbly before ever going on another coach trip.  And even then, I won’t go on one.

Written by Lores

December 3, 2009 at 5:06 pm

Holidays with The Olds…

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Friday morning I am off on a very brief holiday to the ‘West Country‘.

My intinery:

And the best thing about it?

I’m going by coach

A coach full of old people

Yep this is a bone fide Old Person Holiday.  I’m accompanying my Aunt on this trip – she isn’t a pensioner by the way, she just thought this holiday was a bargain (and indeed it is – £130 inc travel, 2 nights bed breakfast & dinner in a hotel plus admission to Eden Project!).

I’ve never been away on a genuine old person holiday before, with a pile of old folk, and I don’t really know what to expect.   (Debauchery?  Decadence? Dominos?)

Anyway, I’m really looking forward to this trip – it’ll be great to have a break, and the bonus of travelling with a whole pile of elderly folk: there is no chance of us running out of travel sweets on the journey down…

Written by Lores

November 25, 2009 at 9:42 pm

Devon: Rain, Scrumpy, and Oddballs

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I’m back!  Back from my petite vacance in the West Country.  There were high-lights (the Valley of Rocks, scrumpy) and low-lights (rain, strange people and hangovers from excess scrumpy) from my trip…mainly low-lights truth be told.  Devon is an odd place. 

The rain just seems so much…wetter… in Devon than it does anywhere else in the country.  In Devon, there seems to be two different types of rain – big fat rain that comes down heavily and soaks you to the core within a minute, or big fat rain that comes in heavily at a 90° angle and soaks you to the core within a minute.

And don’t get me started on the people.  I had, of course, heard the old adage that Devon is a place where ‘men are men and the sheep are nervous’.  So I was just expecting perverts…no one prepared me for the number of generally odd characters that I encountered on the trip.  From the boy who was 7 foot tall and looked like a future murderer, to the old man in a Dartmoor pub who told us to move seats so as ‘not to interupt the meeting’ (there was no apparent meeting taking place at the time). 

Take this story for an example of the kind of oddness I am talking about.  

V was in a supermarket in Exeter with his brother in the cake and bread aisle.  There were all sorts of novelty cakes on display, you know the kind I mean – Man Utd cakes, Princess birthday cakes etc.  Anyway, this Devonian woman came into the store, marched up to a David Beckham cake on display, and punched it with full force.  She then turned around to V and his brother, shouted out “I f*cking hate Beckham”, and promptly left the shop.

I mean what sort of unbalance of character means that you would literally punch a cake because you didn’t like the celebrity depicted on the icing?

Anyway, I am back in London now.  Back with the nutters I am prepared for and enjoying the polluted, yet slightly less heavy rain. 

Next time:  A much fuller (and fairer) review of Exeter, Devon and the New Forest  (On the back burner at the mo as I’ve been busier than a bagful of busy bees with obsessive compulsive disorder since I’ve been back)

Written by Lores

September 15, 2009 at 4:06 pm

Holidays!

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Its that time of year again, when I dust off my waterproofs, roll up my sleeping bag and resign myself to a week of cold showers and being attacked by creepy crawlies. 

Yes it’s holiday time.  And holiday time means camping.

I don’t know why I love camping so much.  It’s almost depressingly British – it always rains, the showers are always cold, and my pitch invariably ends up next to that of;

  1. A family of screaming kids that wake up at 6am
  2. A family of screaming kids that wake up at 6am with a dog
  3. A family of chavs with screaming kids that wake up at 6am with a dog and have a fight

Or, even worse than the above – the people who pitch next door and who want to be your friends.  (shudder)

Camping is such a miserable experience I can’t help but like it.  Perhaps it’s just me that is depressingly British…

Anyway, this week I have been planning my intinerary – to start in the West Country (Devon or Cornwall), and work my way back along the Jurassic Coast (not to be confused with the Jurassic Park) back to London, stopping at various sights (and sites) along the way.

This route along the south of the British Isles is stunning.  Rustic coast lines, breath-taking views, and stunning countryside.  But a girl cannot live by scenery alone, so what activities can I amuse myself with en route? 

Well, I’ve done a bit of delving, and have book marked some of the options below – I just hope I get time to do them all!;

The Gnome Reserve

Fun for gnome lovers of all ages

Fun for gnome lovers of all ages

Situated in North Devon, The Gnome Reserve promises fun “for the young at heart, from 1 to 101”.  As demonstrated by the stunning publicity picture (right)

“Gnome hats are loaned free of charge together with fishing rods, so you don’t embarrass the gnomes! Take your cameras and embarrass the family with some truly memorable photos for the family album!”

And all for £2.95 per person.  Bargain

Monkey World

I like gnomes – sure – who doesn’t?  But I love monkeys. 

Located in Dorset (one step nearer to London than Devon), Monkey World is a centre full of monkeys.  Rescued ones.  (Did I mention I love monkeys?)  So this tourist attraction is definitely worth a look – if only to pick up some monkey gifts such as monkey thimbles, a simian spoon-rest or the ever popular ape lapel badge.

Sheep Racing

sheepBack to Devon again to mount a sheep (ahem) with a cuddly toy, and race it around a track.  No really.   The Big Sheep appears to be a theme park … the theme being…er…sheep.  As the website says –  “The best day of your holiday… baa none!”   I’m there!

Cheese Rolling

Actually, I have missed the annual cheese rolling event this year (it took place on 1 June).  I think I’ll start my camping trip earlier to join in the fun next year.  Or maybe not (see the video below)

Park at My House

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Stunned by this simple yet genius website I stumbled upon earlier today: Park at My House

The Park at My House website enables land-owners to rent out their car parking space (driveway / garage / car parks etc) to people requiring parking space on a short or long-term basis.  

People with space to rent can register details of their space on the site.  People looking for car parking space can then search by area, and choose which space they wish to use based on availability and cost. 

This is a great way to provide fine free and affordable parking – as many people trying to find parking near to rail stations, or airports, or anywhere in London knows, parking costs can be exorbitant! 

A simple idea, yet so effective.

Written by Lores

July 24, 2009 at 9:50 am