Thursday, 30 April 2015

Take this trip, seen, by me, on Tripadvisor

Sewage, silt and frogs jumping around the sunbeds - might give this one a miss

"Booking holidays should be fun," my sister reminds me when I describe the ill will I feel towards 'Annabelle from'.

It is not fun to spend 172 hours researching every villa, hotel, B&B, camp site and former olive press on the delightful island of Crete in the hope of finding 'perfection' - that elusive accommodation with five out of five star reviews, canopied sun-beds, pure sand, wicked cocktails and British bangers for brekkie. And all for well under £3k for four adults.

After what felt like a month but was probably only three and a half weeks; I'd narrowed my search down to three hotels - and they were all available by simply ringing Anabelle at


"I don't understand what you are asking me for," she drawled for the 100th time as I attempted to explain my 'unusual' bedroom request. No, it wasn't anything like that. My chandelier-swinging days went out with the lumbago. I simply wanted a fairly 'family room' for hubby, me and my grown-up son  (that's a normal room with a camp bed in the corner) and a single room for his girlfriend.

"I can do two twin bed rooms," she repeated, again. "But if you want to put a third bed in one of those rooms - it will cost a further £400."

And that was the rub; in June it is possible to take four people to Greece with All Inclusive food & drink and flights for a little more than £2K. But if you add another bedroom to this mix, it'll cost a further £1,000 JUST FOR THE ROOM. And if don't want your teenage sweethearts to sleep in the same room; you have to fork out another £100-400 for the inconvenience of tripping over a 6ft teenager on a 4ft camp-bed every time you want to go on the balcony to dry your cossie.

Katie from did not have any trouble understanding my 'two room' request. She offered me a five star all-inclusive hotel - and threw in TWO private pools for good measure. My husband couldn't believe his luck. We have never been able to afford a private pool; never mind two...he want to bed so happy; but I went to bed brooding on the following Tripadvisor review;

Beautiful hotel spoilt by guests

"Whilst sitting on our terrace, the couple in 617 decided to copulate, naked, in the adjoining pool & terrace in clear view of ourselves.... We are not prudish but do have standards & expect that others should conduct themselves in an appropriate manner. We received assurances that this would not happen again and if it did the couple would be removed. Unfortunately, the couple could not contain their lust & were again seen copulating in plain view. I again complained...we also asked for the pool to be cleaned, as the thought of swimming amongst someones ejaculate is, quite frankly, sickening.

The following day, after we were witness to the same acts, I spoke to staff...instead of taking robust action with the couple, the staff offered us another room of the same type to afford us some privacy, away from the flagrant exhibitionism next door.

We reluctantly agreed so as not to ruin our honeymoon further. We packed our cases & started to walk towards the new room... To get there, we had to walk beside the neighbour's pool. As we walked past the pool, the male of the couple, called out to us "Bye bye" in a rather sarcastic tone."

With the words 'Bye, bye' ringing sarcastically in my ears, I rang Katie to deliver the bad news. I couldn't go to this hotel because of something that happened in May 2012.

In the end, I managed to book my own holiday by ringing one of my chosen three hotels directly and booking my own flight. During this whole ordeal - not fun do you hear me Sharon -  I must have read nigh on a thousand Tripadvisor reviews. Even in my mind-melted, fact scrambled and eye-strained state; some made me smile.

I especially loved those written by people who clearly had nothing to moan about but - being British - rose to the occasion anyway.

Here's some highlights:-

Never go back

"Me and five other friends went for a good girlie holiday arrived on a Friday and by Tuesday the hotel had given us our last warning for noise - receptionist said we had been shouting and singing at 5.10am which was untrue as we didn't actually get in till 6.30am."

Never, ever, ever again

"There's 112 rooms in this hotel and only 19 sunbeds. If you weren't up at the crack of dawn each morning, then you would never find yourself in possession of a sunbed. So, we sat on the flimsy plastic chairs enjoying the sun and waited for the pool-bar to open. It did open...on our 5th day of being there. Hand on heart, there were people crying after being there for less than 24hrs. As we waited for our coach back to the airport, a young couple offered to exchange their flight for ours. They hadn't been there for 5hrs !!!!"

Stay well clear

"The whole week I was there I ate a stuffed tomato. Do not go here, I am not a fussy person but, damn, I have standards"

Totally ripped off

"Elderly German woman about 70 allowed to walk around the pool topless calling the children Bast**ds..."

This hotel should be on Watchdog

"When we arrived there was a tramp there with dirty black feet getting free vodka & all the other holiday makers had to pay for it the hotel rooms are a disgrace never a cleaner around & the rooms have cobwebs & there was a wasp nest in the shower cubicle..."

Great Stay!

"The white washed buildings and beating sunshine was a bit harsh on the eyes."

Good holiday - little things to make it better

"Insects/birds, from around 6am till dusk we had next to our apartment block the horrendous noise of these. Surely there is a device that can, scatter/scare these insects off? To be woken up by that every morning at the same time was not a good thing."

Don't bother, Avoid at all costs!!!!

"The all inclusive drinks didn't start until 10am..."

Please read and take note

"I didn't appreciate the sleazy bar promoter....trying to charm his way and take me to Malia. I saw him one night with his hands in another girls shorts, funny, because he showed me a picture of his girlfriend!!"

Prison Cell

"At 6 in the evening a Danny Davito lookalike arrived...he was extremely rude and arrogant. He did not know the meaning of a service with a smile. he was known to offer young females sex in the back room of the bar (and) he could not even pour a decent drink!"

According to photographer Phillip Grey; 'a tourist hot-spot'

"The ‘beach’ is just at the front of the hotel. The word that springs to mind is ‘grotty’.It is covered in cigarette ends, the sun beds are crap (3 Euro), even the sand is a dirty brown colour. You will not be able to eat or drink without some low life smoking right next to you and your was all I could do not to grab the nearest person’s cigarette and ram it down their throat.... the British let the side down as per usual. Children left unsupervised...I saw a lad of about twelve wandering around on his own with a glass of beer at two in the morning. Kids lying on the the pool table lasted the week I will never know. Cues and balls thrown around, did I mention the foul language? If you have tattoos, a shaven head, wear a football shirt every day and have an obedient wife and two obese children you will be in good company.
Summary: Overall, it was ok."

Hotel from the depths of hell

"You get offered the same lunch and dinner everyday. The breakfast is the same and you get no snacks. Drinks are limited and all taste like water. I lost a stone in weight..."

Dire hotel

"My toilet roll ran out, so I had to go to the bar (which had people in) and, embarrassingly, ask for more. The owner sent ME to find the cleaner to ask for some. I found her to be then told ''no toilet roll!''...Two days later she brought me some. What was I supposed to do in those two days? use my fingers?"

 Hotel from hell

"I went to open window first evening to discover it was open as it had no glass in (the) frame"

***pot rather than a palace

"The XXX Palace seems to built over two things, a wasp nest and a cattery. At the top pool there are constantly wasps the size of ferrets flying past which makes it impossible to relax. At the pool closer to hotel it seems the owners have decided to make extra money by renting it out to stray cats from the local areas."

After all that reading, needed a lie-down - and booked this cracker

For some truly wonderful Tripadvisor reviews, try the following:-

Friday, 17 April 2015

Now that's what I call a wedding anniversary...

April fools...?

"You get less for murder," my husband observed to the taxi driver on our way to Le Bistrot Pierre (very good btw) after pointing out we were out to 'celebrate' 27 years of marriage.

"Do you think she's aged me?" he then asked, pointlessly, recklessly.  

Never ever ask anyone for estimates of your possible age unless you want to be horribly humiliated. My market trader dad was always being asked 'to guess how old I am' by hairy chinned old ladies. He used to think of a likely figure - and then ADD ten years. He claimed this technique always raised a laugh...

I can imagine. I certainly laughed until I was slightly sick when our taxi driver, a grey-haired veteran of the road, replied; "You are both old - yes, but not really, really old."

Really? Thanks. And after all those nice things I said about his plastic car seats. 

Earlier, just to get the evening flowing, I'd poured us both a heart starter and booted up YouTube for a 'Do you remember anything else about 1988?' pop quiz. My husband couldn't tell his Aswad from his Erasure. But, on hearing the opening bars of a haunting melody which has swept over a million yoga mats since, he confidently pronounced "Enya, Orinoco Flow"...which was right but so wrong at the same time.

So, for your entertainment, here's a wedding themed top 20 from 1988 with the name of the artists devilishly omitted. 

Can you do better than my REALLY old man?

Marriage. It starts off all....

1. Two Hearts(P. C.)
2. Anything for you (G.E and the M.S.M.)
3. Sign Your Name (T.T.D)

the passion, the promises

4. Love Will Save The Day (W.H.)
5. I Need You Tonight (I)
6. Nothing's Gonna Change My Love for You (G.M)
7. Give Me All Your Love (WS)

But beware...

8. My One Temptation (M.P)
9. Dirty Diana (M.J)

 In times of strife, it helps to remember..

10. How Men Are (A.C)

Your happy times...

11. On The Beach (C.R)
12. Loadsamoney (doing up the house) (H.E)
13. Sweet Child O' Mine (G.N.R)

Your sad times...
14. I Don't Want to Talk About It (E.B.T.G)
15. You Have Placed A Chill In My Heart (The E.)
16. Easy (The C)

And you may find yourself saying...

17. Maybe We Should Call It A Day (H.D - see above for a clue)
18. I Quit (B.)

But, with a little luck, stamina, determination and hard liquor...

19.  Nothing Can Divide Us (J.D.)
20.  Let's Stick Together (B.F and R.M.)

Answers; Phil Collins, Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine, Terence Trent D'Arby, Whitney Houston, INXS, Glen Medieros, Whitesnake, Mica Paris, Michael Jackson, Aztec Camera, Chris Rea, Harry Enfield, Guns n' Roses, Everything But the Girl, The Eurythmics, The Commodores, Hazell Dean, Bros, Jason Donovan, Brian Ferry and Roxy Music.

Monday, 6 April 2015

Going, going - gone; yes, I am officially barmy

Eddie - the face to launch a thousand naff purchases
One of my best friends sent me an email the other day to say she is 'worried' about my obsession with Eddie. Not only do I go everywhere with my little furry fiend (spelling mistake deliberate), my every waking thought seems to revolve around ways to tame his rabid heart.

Sadly, my obsession with my dog doesn't end with the living, breathing, slobbering version. I am also very into 'dog' purchases. Since becoming mum to Eddie, I now have a dog mug featuring his face with the legend 'Fetch it yourself - you threw it'. I also have doggy Christmas baubles and - oh dear - I might  own a red dotty scarf which matches my boy's collar.

Dog gone it...I wanted to walk off with this chappie

It goes without saying that the 'vintage' (for vintage read flea-bitten, clapped out and thread-bare) dog-on-wheels had my sluggish heart beating when it appeared in the sale catalogue of a Derby auction house. I am not sure the dog-eared specimen (above) was a perfect match for my beauty...but there was something about those 'who me?' eyes.

Within minutes of seeing that canine cutie I was on the dog and bone (sorry) to Bamford's Auction Rooms in Derby and found myself offering up to £40 to secure him (the item had no estimate, which means the poor soul had no value; other than to a crazy woman not fully in control of her purse, dog or hormones.

The day after the auction I woke to find an invoice from Bamfords for the following....

                   "Coins, Victoria - Gothic Florin, 1872, another 1876."

Yes, dear reader, like a skittish Golden Labrador with ten tails I had lumbered in with the wrong lot number. There were around a thousand items in that sale - Edwardian scent bottles,1920s tea dresses, Crown Derby squirrel paperweights etc etc - and I would have been thrilled to take home 99.9 per cent of it. With one exception;-

                   "Coins, Victoria - Gothic Florin, 1872, another 1876."

My husband thought it was hilarious to sing 'Half a Sixpence' all night even though, as I patiently explained, a florin is a posh name for a two bob bit, not a sixpence. But forget shillings and pence, these actual coins cost me more than 30 pounds inclusive of commission even though the 'best' one looked like this...

The Queen Vic' - how she'd look after a few pints

Naturally, the only sensible thing to do was to put up with my lot and stick it on Ebay. Over the next three days, thanks to new friends from the coin collecting fraternity, I became a bit of a numismatic (if you can say that - I'll send you a penny). I now know all about tarnishing, toning, chips and nicks and how it makes your eyes bleed if you try too hard to find a coin's die number (it's a tiny numeral beneath the Queen's bust - find a rare one and you're really in the money).

Thanks to one of these dear chaps (for I assume they are all men, don't know why) I discovered that the 1876 Gothic Florin is a rare one. Indeed, my knackered, dirty Florin might even see me good for a few quid on the original purchase price. On hearing this news, I began to love my:-

                  "Coins, Victoria - Gothic Florin, 1872, another 1876."

That is until LoveMeLoveMyCoins436 (an Ebay coin enthusiast) wrote to tell me my 1876 coin was a 1886 coin (Bamfords listed it incorrectly); it's not rare, it's not unusual and, as there is no die number on this date of coin,.it's probably not worth my purchase of a jeweller's magnifying eye-glass (due to arrive by FedEx tomorrow).

In short, my two bob is probably worth about two bob...

So, I end this long weekend £30-odd quid worse off and that doesn't include damage done to eyes, Ebay reputation and self-esteem. No cute toy dog to aggravate my annoying real-life one and I have lost my new numismatic friends as I have had to withdraw my coins from Ebay (I may have been flogged a wrongly dated coin - but I am not going to do it to others).

So, all I can really do is write Bamfords a stern letter. But, while searching for their email address, I did stumble across their next auction date (Wednesday April 8th, in Rowsley since you ask.)

I want;-

Paddington bear, vintage - and so dear (estimate £40-£60)

 I will probably end up with:-

Stick that in your Arab-face pipe and smoke it

I'll let you know how it all pans out...