Covid Special: April No.3 2020

Laugh. You know it makes sense!

To reduce the negative effects of stress (high blood pressure and poor breathing etc.), it is a good idea to laugh especially at yourself! Have you ever unblocked the sink and with great satisfaction poured the water back down the plug hole only to find you had not put the u-bend back? Try it sometime! Failing which teach yourself to laugh as a form of exercise and do it every day after you’ve done the washing up. There are lots of classes on u-tube to encourage you, and they are free.

Please feel free to send any items or requests etc. to your editor, they will be appreciated.

Our First Family Trip Abroad by Norman Williams

It was 1970 when we decided to risk a family holiday to Ostend I had been there several times with football tours and although these could not be comparable to a family holiday I persuaded my wife Carol that there would be plenty to do.

The company that I worked for booked the hotel and ferry and in due course we, (myself, Carol and our two daughters aged 3&4) made our way to Charing Cross and caught a train to Dover Priory. Then a taxi to Dover Ferry Port where we boarded a bus that took us through customs to the ferry where we walked up a ramp and onto the ferry. The girls found all this exciting whereas I found it very tiring having to tote all the luggage up steps to the main deck. The journey to Zeebrugge took four and a half hours but we were fortunate with the weather and it was a new experience to explore the ferry with its restaurants and duty free shop.

Having arrived in Zeebrugge we had no idea where we had to go and firstly ended up on the beach then finally after wandering about found the tram stop which was in the middle of a wide highway with the road running on either side. We then realised that we did not know which direction we had to travel to Ostend and upon asking a lady (by means of saying Ostend and waving my arms in different directions) I was informed in perfect English that the next tram would take us into Ostend. The lady thought that the girls were twins and chatted with Carol for the rest of the journey.

Arriving at Ostend we caught a taxi to our hotel and after paying it off and trying to register we were informed that we were at the wrong hotel – we were given directions and set off still having to carry our luggage but fortunately the right hotel was not that far. Having arrived we were immediately ushered into dinner without the opportunity to freshen up. I was relieved to sit down and had just began to eat my meal when the waitress said that a man was asking for me at reception which completely confused me, however it turned out to be the taxi driver who gave me my camera which he had found and tracked us down. He would not accept any reward and for my part I felt extremely guilty at calling him names after being delivered to the wrong hotel. After dinner we all retired to our room and being completely worn out. So we ended our first night abroad going to bed very early.

We soon found the beach and the girls really enjoyed splashing in the sea and playing in the sand whilst Carol found the shops and it was whilst looking around a store that my youngest needed to go to the loo very urgently, so Carol took her into a toilet. On leaving, there was a lady sitting at a table who demanded payment for using the facilities. It was only a small amount so Carol paid it only for the lady to demand a further payment. Another customer explained that the attendant wanted payment for two people even though only one cubicle was used. So Carol refused and an argument ensued which was quite funny really because of the different languages.

I was all for paying but Carol would have none of it and walked off warning me not to pay leaving me in a quandary. On the one hand I had the attendant who was now following me (Carol and the girls had disappeared), and I can only describe her as pleading for this very small amount and I was getting very embarrassed but it was a no contest – I dare not cross Carol. Eventually it must have crossed the attendant’s mind that she was losing money by leaving her post and went back to her post. I found Carol and the girls outside the store and had to calm her down pointing out that I was the one left to deal with it when she burst into laughter at the thought of my being carted off by the police – not that it would have happened but such is her sense of humour. The hotel was family run and the grandmother often volunteered to baby-sit whilst we sat downstairs having a quite drink but although it was perfectly O.K. Carol could never really settle for long, so always went up early on the pretext of being tired whereas I was free to relax at the bar. The FIFA World Cup was on so one night I wandered further afield to a local bar where I knew the games were being shown on T.V. The bar was as you would expect crowded and it did not take long for me to be identified as English with all the good natured ribbing about the quality of our football team and I was invited to join a group most of whom spoke English. I had a great time trying out the various beers and somehow not only found my way home but also the correct room and to her credit Carol did not say a word, just commented that I appeared to have enjoyed myself.

With our holiday nearing its end my firm having learnt of our outward journey difficulties arranged for us to be picked up at the hotel, so on the day there we all were waiting outside the hotel when this Mercedes car came speeding down the road only to stop with a screech just by us. Carol looked at me obviously thinking the same as me and hoping that this was not our driver. But of course it was and as we sped along and I mean really raced along he explained that he was a former Belgian paratrooper who fought alongside the British and thought that we were great. Personally I think that he must have had a desire to be an F1 racing driver but to be fair we arrived at the ferry port in good time and he made sure that we in the right place before leaving us. As with everyone that we met whilst on holiday all the people were honest, courteous and really helpful and ensured that we had an enjoyable stay.

The rest of our journey home went smoothly but again was very tiring and so we promised ourselves that we would go back but look to do it differently.

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