Going All The Way With A Bus Driver

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So, I’ve got a bus pass. Let’s not go too much into how I got one, okay? I’d rather not go there. Anyway, a free bus I have. It’s been in my purse for months. I live out in the sticks, where buses run hourly (if that) so the thought of standing around waiting for a bus when I could pop into Oxford quite easily in my car seemed a silly choice to make … until. I met my friend Marie in Oxford for a few hours shop and some lunch and the car parking charge was over ten quid. Now, that’s just taking the Michael right? So, when we arranged to have another jolly (as Marie terms it) around Oxford, I thought why not use my bus pass? It’s free after all.

So, Organised I became. And that’s unusual for me. I checked the bus number, G3. It came to my village at a quarter to the hour, every hour. I then checked the times of the returning buses, emailed them to my phone. I prepared a chicken curry in the slow cooker, turned it onto low, after all I would be back by three so it would be safe enough. Armed with everything I needed for my bus trip, I set off to get the 11.45 bus which would get me into Oxford by 12.30 and all free of course. Marie never said a word but I sensed she was uncertain about the whole thing. It was a lovely sunny spring day. Perfect for my first venture on a bus, after all it must have been all of thirty years since I went on a bus. It was lovely. I travelled through several other local villages before heading onto the main road, and then finally towards Oxford Town itself.

‘Let me know when you arrive?’ Marie had texted.

I don’t know why she was so worried. I arrived on time and we had a great shop and several coffees. In fact we had been enjoying it so much that we lost track of time. It was almost four.

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‘Fancy something to eat?’ asked Marie.

My stomach churned at the thought of the chicken curry. It would be okay wouldn’t it? It was on low anyway. But to be on the safe said. I text my stepson who lived nearby to ask if he could pop in and turn it off, after all, better safe than sorry and then off we trotted to Pizza Express. Halfway through my phone bleeped. It was a text from my stepson.

‘Sorry not at home today, won’t be back until after 5.30.’

My stomach flipped over. Oh no. I’d just presumed he’d popped in around four and turned it off. Visions of my cottage on fire now began to haunt me. Oh no, this is a disaster. Even a free pass isn’t worth my house burning down.

We finished up our food and I glanced again at the time on my phone.

‘I’ll be in time for the 5.30 bus,’ I said confidently.

But I won’t be home until well gone six and by then we’ll either have char-grilled chicken curry or a burnt down cottage. I sent Andrew a message saying I should be home before him but to be aware the slow cooker had been on since 9.

‘You worry too much,’ he replied.

‘Where do you get your bus from?’ asked Marie as we hurried along, both of us conscious of my burning cottage.

My brain froze. I had no idea.

‘Presumably outside Debenhams,’ I said.. ‘That’s where I got off.’

‘Probably,’ said Marie, unworried.  ‘My friend used to get that bus and she picked it up around Debenhams.’

We kissed goodbye and she trotted off to her bus stop and me to find mine, except the G3 wasn’t mentioned at the Debenhams bus stop, or at the bus stop further down. I strolled around the corner to the next lot of bus stops. The sun had now gone down and the wind was sharp and cold and I didn’t have a coat. I tried not to panic, after all the G3 had to go back too didn’t it? Finally I found it. G3. I double checked it did go to my village, although I knew G3 was the right one. And then I waited and I waited and I waited. It was getting colder and there seemed to every bus in Oxford but the G3. I checked my phone again. There should have been one at 5.30. Then I saw it, large as life and the most beautiful sight ever, the G3 bus. Except it said it was terminating at Woodstock, which was quite a way from my village. Never the less I jumped on and checked.

‘You want the next one love,’ said the driver. ‘I’m not going the whole way.’

I sighed and clambered off into the cold again. Meanwhile another passenger waiting at the stop asked me about his bus. I simply gave him a blank look. I barely knew which, was my bus, let alone what was his. Plus, I had a lot more on my mind. Like my slow cooker. It seemed my stepson at this point was going to pop in and then he saw my car and presumed I was home. How was he to know I’d taken the stupid bus?

Finally another G3 came along and I jumped on, sighing with relief. Maybe I would be home just in time before the dinner dried up totally. I struggled to relax and focused on the two women chattering away behind me. My ears pricked up when one of them said

‘This is the Enstone bus isn’t it?’

I nearly threw up into my handbag. Enstone, what did she mean Enstone? Enstone is miles from my village. No, she must have it wrong surely. It’s the G3 and it goes to my village via Woodstock. Yes, here we are coming into Woodstock. The bus goes through the village as I hoped and then travels along the road that leads to the turn off for my village. I check the time. It’s now almost six. Andrew will soon be home. Please let him come home to a charred chicken rather than a charred cottage. The turning for my village loomed ahead. I’m ten minutes from home. I may even make it before Andrew. I get my phone out ready to dial 999. Best to be prepared, I always think.slowcook3

But the bus flies pass my turning and continues on into the countryside. Oh no, he is going to Enstone which is miles away. Has he gone insane? I jump from my seat, almost flying into his lap as he brakes sharply.

‘You want this stop?’ he asks.

I stammer out my village and he looks curiously at me.

‘I’m going to Chipping Norton,’ he says.

Oh my God that’s even further away. He may as well have said Dublin.

‘But … I thought …’ I begin.

‘You needed the Charlton G3,’ he said.

How many bloody G3’s are there? Why can’t there one like everyone else has.

‘But …’ I begin, but it’s no good telling him about my charcoal cottage is there

‘You’ll have to go all the way with me now,’ he says, moving off.

I sigh and text Andrew, fighting back my tears.

‘I’m so sorry for burning the house down. I only wanted to save parking fees.’

A quick message back tells me he is home and that home is still there in fact, and that the curry looks great. Meanwhile, I’m travelling through the countryside of Oxfordshire.

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We arrive at Chipping Norton where the driver tells me he has to wait a while before turning back.  We then go all the way back and finally reach the turn off for my village but instead of taking it he stops.

‘This is you,’ he says

‘But aren’t you going to …’

‘You need to cross over, get the next one. It should be five minutes and that will take you to the village.’

Oh for goodness sake.

‘One consolation,’ he says.

Oh really, is there one?

‘You won’t do this again will you?’

He’s quite right of course.   I cross the road, get the oncoming bus and get home at 6.45.

Still it could be argued I got the most out of my free bus pass.

You can buy Lynda’s latest bestselling comedy novel ‘Perfect Weddings’  here

 

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You’re Invited to Perfect Weddings

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Hi everyone,

I thought I would never get over here. Things were manic on my Facebook and Twitter page yesterday because … hurrah it was the launch day for my new novel ‘Perfect Weddings’

I’m so excited about this book as everyone is saying they think it is my best one yet.

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I love the cover thanks to Katie Grace Klumpp, who is so talented, you have to agree. Click her name to check out her work.

 

I hope you enjoy ‘Perfect Weddings’ If you like weddings then you are bound to.

Do you remember Amy Perfect who wrote ‘A Christmas Romance?’ Well, my bit of fun was to name the main character in ‘Perfect Weddings’ Amy Perfect too 🙂

A Christmas Romance Design!

 

And by the way, while we are talking about ‘A Christmas Romance’ it is now 99p. It is the first in the Little Perran series and it doesn’t have to be Christmas to enjoy it. So why not treat yourself to both. That’s only £2.98 for two books. What can you buy for that these days? Go here for ‘A Christmas Romance’

So what is ‘Perfect Weddings’ about?

‘Every bride wants a perfect wedding and that includes Georgina Winters. Amy Perfect is the crème de la crème of wedding planners so who best to plan Georgina s wedding… except the man Georgina plans to marry is the same man who jilted Amy three years ago. Will her plan to give Georgina the most imperfect wedding backfire on her? Is this the chance for Amy to win back the love of her life, or will insufferable Ben Garret put a spanner in the works? Arab princes, spoilt brides and wedding catastrophes make Perfect Weddings a page-turning romantic comedy that will keep you guessing until the very last page.’

I do hope you enjoy it. You can get yours here

http://goo.gl/Vp78vS

Much love as always

Lynda

x

The Fat Club

light  You know that moment. That light bulb moment. The moment when you think ‘I’m fat’? As opposed to I’m a little overweight or I’m a bit dumpy or, I’ve gained a few pounds. It’s that awful torturous realisation that it isn’t just a few pounds around the tummy and that those clothes in your wardrobe that don’t fit anymore, haven’t actually shrunk. And stuffing them to the back like they’re the ones that should be ashamed, isn’t really helping either. You’ve basically got bigger right? And you’ve only got bigger because you keep pushing stuff into your mouth. Yes, it really is that simple. The final straw for me was when the doctor aka my husband, said ‘Your bum really does look big in that dress.’ Shock horror, as I honestly thought he would never notice and that those baggy tops were hiding that extra two stone from his ever watchful eye. That sneaking those extra fig rolls into my mouth when he was at work meant he wouldn’t notice. It seems not. I had to face it. I was getting fat. I couldn’t pass off two stone as a couple of extra pounds any more. The Doctor was concerned I’d get diabetes but then he is always concerned I’d get diabetes. If I was anorexic he’d still be worrying I might get diabetes. He read somewhere that diabetes was the biggest killer of women and everything I do he watches with a sharp eye. The truth is I had been avoiding the long mirrors and telling myself that that new top didn’t fit in the shop because it obviously had the wrong size tag on it. Ha, there’s a limit to how many items have the wrong price tag on, right?

I know to use the word fat is not politically correct. I should say I’m overweight. That would make everyone more comfortable wouldn’t it, including me? But the fact is I am fat or at least I was. I’ll never be anorexic. Not that I underestimating the pain of anorexia. In fact someone close to me was anorexic. The fact is food is one of the most dangerous things we have in our house. It’s one of the things that most of us suffer some kind of dependency with, either using it too much or going the complete opposite. It’s never really about food but how we feel emotionally. I don’t see anything wrong in admitting that I was getting fat. In fact, by accepting it, I actually started doing something about it. After the light bulb moment I decided it was time to take action. I do sit around a lot. Not because I’m lazy you understand but because work dictates that I do. It’s quite hard to write a novel standing up. Although, having said that, I did get a fair amount of exercise every time I headed downstairs to stick my head in the fridge. I would eat a lot of liver pate on crackers and worse than that a lot of fig rolls. In fact I have been known to eat more than one packet in a day and then there was the chocolate. Not that we have it in the house. Oh no. Chocolate in the house is a no no. That was until the doctor’s son came to stay with his five year old son and that was it. I was doomed.  On a bad writing day I would think nothing of sneaking into their room and stealing some of the five year old’s stash, usually after I had run out of fig rolls. How low is that and I never felt guilty? God forbid I should get off my arse and walk to the shop, although it is a three mile walk there and back from where I live so you can’t really blame me. But before we all get too depressed about my fatness let’s get fat into perspective. If you can run up and down the stairs without getting breathless and your feet swelling then you’re not really fat are you? You don’t have to be a size 8 and look like Kate Moss. I’ve always been slightly overweight and that’s okay. I didn’t struggle with walks or even try to get out of them as I have been doing of late. But as soon as your health suffers then it’s time to take back the control. It’s not the worst thing in the world to be a bit overweight. But it is clearly a woman thing. Now I’ll be accused of being sexist but seriously there are more women at slimming clubs than men, although it could be argued all the women frighten them offfat

Yes, you’ve guessed it I popped along to a slimming club. This helped enormously in the first few minutes when I saw there were people (mostly women) much more overweight than me. But then I stepped on the scales and had a minor heart attack when I discovered I was well over twelve stone. I’d been kidding myself for the past year that I was ten stone. Mind you, the last time I weighed myself, I was, so I could be forgiven for deluding myself that nothing had changed.  I was given my booklets and told to ‘fill my boots’ I of course took this quite literally and hardly looked at the material except to see what the Syns were and how many I could consume on a daily basis. I didn’t take much notice of the A and B choices. Oh yes, slimming clubs are very technical but basically they all come down to the same thing. Eat less fat and sugar and basically you will lose weight. I chose only to hear ‘fill your boots’ and that is what I did the first week, stupidly expecting to have lost weight when I returned the following week. Far from it, in fact I gained.

And so it went on. I attended meetings religiously. I stuck to the plan religiously. Aside from literally stripping off when I got to the scales I did everything to make sure I was lighter before stepping on them. I walked to club. I peed before weigh in. I removed every item of clothing possible. One week I even prayed. I was actually getting close to bribing the weigh in girl with a huge bar of Yorkie. But I never lost more than a half pound and even then not every week. Some weeks I gained, some weeks I maintained and the odd week I may have lost a minute amount of fat. Depressing or what? I was sodding starving. I lived off porridge with fat free yogurt for breakfast and overdosed so much on sweetener that someone said I have no doubt given myself a brain tumour. I’m not sure what’s worse. To be fat or have the sweetener induced tumour. Anyway, let’s crack on. Lunch was Quorn mini sausages which taste foul but I’m used to them now, along with salad and Rollmops. Followed by more fat free yogurt and hey ho a treat, some sugar free jelly (more sweetener I hear you cry) I don’t stand a chance do I? Dinner would be fish and salad or a jacket potato. But no matter what I ate or how little, I still couldn’t seem to lose weight. Finally I lost it, my temper that is, not the weight. I came home and sent a text to my slimming buddy and said ‘I’m not going any more,’ and then immediately hit the chocolate. She later text back to say ‘Oh, well, I’m not either then. I’m not going alone,’ and she immediately hit the wine. The pleasures of making the decision to leave fat club … except it only lasted a day and I changed my mind. I invested in a fitbit and found my tape measure. I was losing weight. It may not show on the weighing scales but the fat was coming off. I started walking and more came off. I walked every day and even more came off. Walking became easier and I finally got into those clothes that had been shoved to the back of the wardrobe. Better still the doctor said ‘Your bum looks good in those leggings.’ What’s more I felt better. I also learnt that weighing scales aren’t the be-all and end-all. The important thing is that I’m getting fit and feeling good about it as I do. Yes, I’m still eating the rabbit food but it’s not so bad and I’ve begun to cut out carbs. But I do have chocolate on occasions and cheese. I’m more conscious of what I put into my body and even more conscious of how I treat it. I’m not a fitness freak but I’m certainly aware of my food intake and how it affects me. So, if you have any great recipes do let me know and if you haven’t tried overnight porridge then you really must. It’s fab, filling and helps you lose weight. Just weigh 35 grams of oats, add lots of raspberries or any other fruit of choice, top with lots of fat free natural yogurt, sprinkle with sweetener and stick in the fridge overnight. Delicious!

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Ooh a little PS, my new novel Fifty Shades of Roxie Brown is released on the 14th August. To celebrate, my two best-selling novels ‘Croissants and Jam’ and ‘Coconuts and Wonderbras’ are currently 99p on Amazon. Get them here, here and here. 

 

Much love

Lynda

xx

 

 

Fish Fingers and Poo Poo’s

Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

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Having a four and half year old living with you is very sobering, very sobering indeed. The fact that he thinks I must be at least 100 years old is rather disconcerting too. Especially as I see myself more like a young Bohemian Lady Gaga. Mind you, since he arrived to live with us I have aged considerably. I’ve invested in the best face creams known to man and Timothy still claims I look 100. Mind you, I blame a lot of this on the stress of trying to cook Fish Fingers and chips. You might think it’s easy. I’ve never cooked bloody fish fingers and chips in my life. Let’s face it, why would I? But there is clearly a knack to this which I don’t have. Although in theory and as a working class kid I suppose I ought to have the knack to prepare the perfect fish finger.  The truth is while all my mates were eating them, my lovely mum bless her, hardly bought them. Not because she didn’t like them but most likely because we couldn’t afford them. Much of my life was spent scraping margarine off the wrapper and filling my sandwiches with sugar. Ah, that’s where my sugar addiction started, with sugar sandwiches. Just the thought of it now makes me want to puke. Can you imagine offering a child a sugar sandwich? Jamie Oliver would have a stroke if he even heard the words. Even worse, when we ran out of sugar we had to eat that sandwich spread stuff, which looked very much like vomit in a jar to me.

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Come to think of it, it also tasted rather like vomit too. I had a mum who could do a hundred and one things with mince. Well, that’s not strictly true. Mostly she could do one thing with it. Boil it up and then dish it up with mash and processed peas. On reflection fish fingers may have been better. In fact we consumed so much mince when I was a kid that I really don’t know how the whole Renham family escaped Mad Cow disease. Although it could be argued I didn’t escape it. My sister seems fine, in fact, she seems normal, you know, like most people. Maybe, she ate less of it than me. But the less said about that the better. Anyway, as usual, I digress.  How hard can it be to make Fish Fingers and chips? When his father cooks it everything is perfect. Fries are nice and brown and just crisp enough and the Fish Fingers, crisp and hot. Surely it’s simple. Just throw them in a dish, shove them in the oven and follow the cooking instructions. Surely if I can make Cambodian chicken and Tom Yum soup I can cook Fish Fingers and chips for goodness sake.  I thought the reason most kids lived on the stuff was because it was quick and easy to do. I’m starting to think that all mothers should be given a Damehood, never mind giving one to Joan Collins. When did she ever cook Fish Fingers?

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I was left with the four and half year old for an afternoon. I figured this would be a doddle.  I was so confident I even invited Andrew’s other son over for dinner. I decide to make fish pie. I’ll impress his kids with my culinary skills.

‘Are you sure you’ll be okay?’ my stepson asks before leaving for his private nursing appointment. ‘I’ll only be a couple of hours and dad will be home soon.’

Ooh, that’s the worst thing to say isn’t it? It’s like saying dad can handle it but I can’t? It’s only babysitting and some Fish Fingers. I sit Timothy on the couch and go into the kitchen to start the dinner only to have him yell,

‘Who’s looking after me?’

‘I am,’ I yell back.

‘But you’re in the kitchen.’

Well, that’s because I’m cooking his Fish Fingers isn’t it?

‘I can see you,’ I say.

‘Someone needs to look after me,’ he says again his face creasing and tears welling up.

Oh no, this is all I need. I fleetingly wonder if Bendy would be considered human enough to sit with him but dismiss that as quickly as I think of it. It might not go down well with Daddy if Timothy tells him I abandoned him and left him in the care of a cat. No, that won’t work will it? What’s the point of a cat that eats me out of house and home but can’t babysit when needed?

‘Can you read me a story,’ he asks weepily.

Timothy that is, not the cat. I don’t spend my time reading stories to Bendy the cat. I may be mad but I’m not that mad.

Ah, now this I can do. This is what I know, right? Okay I can make up a children’s story. All I need to do is throw in some monsters, a few dinosaurs and a few starfish and he’ll be happy. In fact he can sit in the kitchen while I do it. I can multi task. I’m a woman after all. That’s what we do best isn’t it? But maybe not so well when we’re 100 or at least heading that way, but right now I feel about thirty. I can make up a story, prepare a fish pie, chuck in Fish Fingers and chips and clean up. It’s a doddle, right? except, it would have been, if Timothy hadn’t decided to act out the roles of all the characters in the story. I’m now trying to prepare fish pie, while making up a story and trying to cope with a terror bird squawking around me. Telling Timothy that terror birds don’t squawk is pointless. He’s into it now and that’s that.

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I give the oven chips instructions a quick glance and shove them in the oven while hastily mashing the potato for the fish pie.

‘Can we play Starfish now?’ he asks.

‘Not at the moment,’ I say while thinking a Starfish might be quieter than the bloody terror bird. The kitchen is beginning to resemble a scene out of Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds.’ So when the Doctor walks in a few minutes later my sense of relief is so great that I almost throw myself into his arms. The Alfred Hitchcock hero is home to board up the house and save me from terror birds and Tyrannosaurus Rex. Son number two arrives and it finally seems safe to run to the loo. Or simply run away. Yes, it feels that bad.

‘Can you watch the fish pie,’ I yell down the stairs ‘and pop some peas on.’

‘Sure,’ says my confident, very clever husband.

I saunter back down ten minutes later to find them chatting away like two women while Timothy is still squawking away. I realise the fish fingers haven’t gone in and there is still no water on for the peas.

‘Poo poo,’ says Timothy, grabbing me by the shawl.

I know exactly how he feels.

‘I need to poo poo,’ he repeats.

He’s surely joking. No one poo poo’s just before dinner. Besides I’ve never taken him for a poo poo. I’ve never taken anyone for a poo poo, come to that. Why the dickens would I? I look to Andrew who pulls a face. I grab his hand Timothy’s that is, not Andrew’s and take him upstairs shouting my orders as I go.

‘Can you keep an eye on the peas and the fish pie?’

‘Sure,’ says Andrew.

I’ve heard that before haven’t I?

Timothy crouches over the loo and begins grunting. I’m holding his hand, terrified he’ll fall off.

‘Is this right?’ I ask.

‘I always do it like this,’ he says, looking at me oddly.

You usually have a shower after too, I’m thinking and I just don’t have time for that. There is more grunting and straining and I think it will never happen when finally … Well, I won’t go into details.

‘Finished,’ I ask.

He shakes his head.

‘I think there is more.

There bloody would be wouldn’t there?

‘Will you be ok for one minute?’

‘Yes,’ he says. ‘I’ll hang onto this,’ he says, grabbing the toilet roll holder.

I dubiously consider this. Okay, I’m only going to be a minute. A quick check on the pie and peas and I’ll be back. Surely a child can’t fall off a loo onto the floor and concuss themselves in one minute can they? Mind you, knowing my luck …

‘Don’t touch the loo roll,’ I instruct.

I dash downstairs, where the peas are nearly boiling over.

‘Andrew,’ I shout. ‘I’m in the middle of a poo poo.’

‘This is a mad house,’ says middle son.

‘Sorry,’ says Andrew. ‘It’s just I haven’t seen him for six weeks.’

My ears are cocked for a thud. I really don’t want to have to tell stepson number one that I managed to kill his son during my first babysitting stint. I fly up the stairs to find the bog roll all over the floor.

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               ‘Finished,’ he says. ‘Shower now.’

No way, Jose. I show him the shower substitute cleaner which is my Liz Earle polish cloth and some Johnsons baby wash and a quick scrub of his arse. We make it downstairs to see stepson number one is back.  I hand over child.

‘He never gets held on the loo,’ he says.

I give Timothy a stern stare who just grins. Bloody four year old’s, no wonder I look a 100.

I dish up dinner only to find the chips are now crisps. I toss them onto his plate and he stares at it for a few minutes and then asks his daddy,

‘Why are the Fish Fingers soft?’

Honestly there’s no gratitude for making up stories is there?

I raise my eyebrows. How can they be soft? They’ve been in the oven like forever.

He crunches on his chips and finally says.

‘These are burnt. Can you make my Fish Fingers Dada? I don’t like it when Lynda does it.’

‘No pudding for you,’ I say.

Well, I’m entitled to the last word aren’t I?

 

Chocolate Pancakes and Banshee Cats (Part 2)

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I’m walking through Laos and not looking in the least like Karen Blixen, or Meryl Streep come to that.  But it’s not like the doctor is looking like Robert Redford is it? More like Michael Douglas on a bad day maybe. I’ve not slept for 12 hours and sadly it shows. Note to self, go back to Nivea cream because that bloody expensive Rodial cream obviously isn’t working. All this ‘Come off your flight looking as fresh as a daisy.’ I look more like a wilted daffodil, which is the story of my life.  To top it all guess what Lynda, who packs the house when she is going away, forgot to bring? I’ll give you a few seconds. I didn’t bring my sunglasses. It’s hitting the 30’s here and I didn’t bring sunglasses. It’s not like I don’t have enough. I have about three pairs (all back home, of course). We look at The Mekong river which is beautiful and see all the restaurants along the river front. If I felt just a little better I could enjoy this but all that is on my mind is the tatty hotel we have to go back to.

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‘Are you hungry?’ asks the doc.

‘I’d rather find a hotel first,’ I say.

So, we continue walking and by now I am starting to feel like we’re doing a Kilimanjaro climb.

‘I can’t go any further,’ I groan. ‘I’m so knackered and I feel rough.’

We’ve stopped outside a small hotel with vacancies. I’ve never rushed into anywhere so fast in my life.

‘We have one room, only tonight but tomorrow we do have room.’

Am I so sleep deprived that I’m not hearing people’s words properly.

‘Can we see the room?’ asks the doctor. ‘Or do you not actually have a room.’

‘Oh yes, we have a room.’

Thank goodness for that.

‘Can we see it?’ asks the doc again.

Ah smart idea Dr Watson. We don’t want more toilet seats in our hands. Or, should I say my hands. He happily takes us to the room, which is actually perfect. Nice loo, seat stays on. Apart from the wailing rabid cat outside it is perfect. You get used to wailing rabid cats in Asia so that’s okay.

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‘We’ll take it,’ we say in unison.

‘And tomorrow night?’ asks Andrew.

‘I have other room for you. I show you.’

It’s getting better and better. We accept both rooms and I trot away happily with Andrew to the first hotel, trying to work out how we will explain to the owners, or should I say the young girl who doesn’t speak any English why we don’t want their room. We can’t very well say it’s grotty can we?  Meanwhile my phone bleeps with another update on Bendy.

‘Hope you got into Laos fine and were able to catch up on sleep. Attached are some photos of Bendy today, relaxing with me in the lounge and eating again.’IMG_6212 IMG_6232

 

 

 

 

 

Oh James, you have no idea.

We arrive at the other hotel and the girl isn’t there.

‘What do we do with the key?’ I ask nervously. ‘We can’t just leave it on the desk, someone might steal it.’

We creep upstairs like burglars and quickly pack the few things we took out of the suitcase and drag all our stuff back downstairs. We peek around the corner to find the girl still isn’t there and hurry out. We decide to take the key back the next day.

Finally we fall into bed and can you believe this? I can’t sleep. Meanwhile the doctor snores contentedly beside me. The cat howling like a banshee and a dog barks in sympathy. I pop a sleeping pill into my mouth, ear plugs into my ears and finally sleep.

I awake to no sign of the Doctor. This is not unusual. I often wake to no sign of the doctor. He isn’t one for telling me where he’s off to. At least not all the time, and I blame it on him being a man.

I’ve just showered and dressed when he rushes in.

‘I’ve found us an even better room I think,’ he exclaims.

‘Oh,’ I say.

Three rooms in 24 hours, this is amazing.

‘This American guy named Andy owns a place but he’s booked, unless, of course you don’t mind sharing a bathroom.’

My look must have said it all.

‘No, right, I thought not,’ he says quickly. ‘But his brother has a place, we can go and look at the room there.’

So, off we trot. It’s hot and I still don’t have sunglasses but things are improving you have to agree. And the Mekong river looks beautiful.

 

Andy is very nice, if just a bit excitable and maybe a touch over friendly but you can’t have everything can you. The room is nice too.

‘Ooh, this would be nice for tomorrow night.’ I say.

‘It’s very quiet,’ Andy assures me.

Oh Good, no banshee cats then.

‘Come round for chocolate pancakes and coffee. My wife makes the best.’

Sounds wonderful. To good to be true in fact.

‘For a small charge,’ he adds.

You see what I mean, I’m never wrong.

He advises us where to get sunglasses and we make that our next stop before deciding to go back to the original hotel, you know the one don’t you? I know it’s hard to keep up but do try. After all it’s not that many hotels is it? We arrive and again there is no one there. A guy sitting on the wall outside asks if he can help. Andrew explains and hands back the key and we begin walking back to our current hotel, you know the one? Mind you, I’d understand if you don’t because even I’m getting confused now and it happened to me. We get part way up the hill when the guy comes running after us waving the key.

‘Mister Andrew, you went to wrong hotel.’

We turn and stare at him.

‘No, that’s the key to the room at your hotel,’ says my very confident clever husband.

‘No, no,’ insists the man. ‘You went to wrong hotel last night. You not booked here.’

Oh what!

He points to the hotel next door. And let me tell you this is a very nice hotel too.

‘You booked in there,’ he says.

‘But,’ begins Andrew.

‘Me thought you Andrew Hall.’

Andrew who? I don’t believe this. We wander slowly into the hotel and check if we have a reservation.

‘Yes sir, for four nights,’ says the man behind the reception desk.

‘Can we see the room,’ asks Andrew.

I’m getting a sense of Déjà vu.

We check the room and it’s perfect.

Somehow in less than twenty four hours Andrew and I had managed to book ourselves into four hotels.

‘I suppose that means the chocolate pancakes have just flown out of the window?’ I say.

Beautiful Laos
Beautiful Laos

 

 

 

 

The Well Showered Cockroach. (Holiday Part One.)

There is something about holidaying in Asia that always makes me feel a little like Karen Blixen, you know, the woman depicted in the film ‘Out of Africa.’ Different continent I know but you get my drift.

It is rather romantic to think of myself as like her of course, aside from the syphilis, hers that is not mine. Let’s clarify that before rumours start and as lovely as Andrew is, he isn’t Robert Redford.

Anyway, back to holidaying in Asia. I always transgress as you know. So, let me tell you a little about the romance of our holiday shall I? Be prepared. It isn’t anywhere as romantic as ‘Out of Africa’ I mean, really, did you expect it to be? This is me we’re talking about. Let’s face it starting a holiday with your other half sniffling and coughing is no fun. The Doctor (aka Andrew) decided to catch the flu before we left. Okay, he didn’t exactly decide to. That would be a bit silly wouldn’t it? The point is we became those passengers from hell. You know the ones? The passengers everyone avoids. The passengers you dread will be your seating companions. That was us. Of course, you try to hide it. But it is a little impossible when Andrew had a choking fit and I’m doing my first aid bit in an attempt not to have him die on the plane.  We finally arrive in Bangkok where we have a seven hour stop over and I get my first update on Bendy from my stepson James.

 ‘Hello, just to say Bendy is well and enjoyed the biscuits, treats and milk earlier, as you can see in the photo here. He spent most the day sleeping in the lounge, although is always welcome to go upstairs for quiet time.’

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I feel a little better knowing Bendy the cat is okay but by now I’m feeling a bit rough myself and the Doctor is barely able to speak for the pain in his ear and sinus and I start wondering if he’s perforated an eardrum. That’s just wonderful. He claims never to hear me half the time as it is. Now he’ll have a really good excuse to claim he doesn’t hear my nagging. We trudge to the departure gate for our next flight. It’s now pm and we have six hours to wait for the flight to Laos in South East Asia. I’m so tired but the air conditioning is so fierce that all I can do is shiver. The Doctor lays himself out on three seats and tries to sleep. Everyone avoids us which is good in a way because at least we have plenty of seats to ourselves. If only it weren’t so cold.  Seven hours later (the flight is delayed. I bet Karen Blixen never had these problems) we finally board our flight to Laos. It will take one hour and the time there is pm. We’ve lost a whole night’s sleep and feel crap to boot. But at least the Doctor is out of pain. He can’t hear a thing mind you but he’s out of pain. We both just want to get to Laos, to our hotel and to crash out. Well, that’s simple, I hear you say. You’ve no idea. This is us we’re talking about Lynda and the Doctor remember, not Meryl Streep and Robert Redford.

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The plane lands and we depart with throbbing ears and sinuses and queue for our visa. We then collect our suitcase and It looks less bulky to me and I say as much to the Doctor.

‘Don’t be silly, it’s your memory. It looks the same.’

It doesn’t you know but who am I to argue with the doctor. We get a taxi to the centre and tell the driver where our hotel is. We’re dropped off and walk up a short hill and Andrew says,

‘This is it.’

I’ve never felt more relieved in my life. I trip over a stray cat and follow him to reception where a young girl greets us. She doesn’t speak English and just looks curiously at us. After trying to make her understand that we have booked a room for three nights she finally makes a call from her mobile. A man talks to Andrew in broken English. Andrew gives his name and the man says,

‘Ah yes, Andrew. No problem.’

The phone is handed back to the girl, who takes a key and leads us through a dingy kitchen, out to the back and then into the tiniest room I have ever seen. She closes the door and I look around me. The bed linen looks like it hasn’t been changed in weeks and there is a strange musty smell about the place.

‘We’re paying thirty dollars a night for this,’ I say, struggling to keep my eyes open.

The doctor looks like he couldn’t care less.

‘I’m too tired to care,’ he mumbles.

I trundle to the loo and stare at the dingy shower. Oh God, is that a cockroach making itself at home. I don’t believe this. I’m feeling decidedly jet lagged now not to mention shivery and achy. Now my stomach feels dickey. I’ve been here two minutes and I’ve already got deli belly. I lift the lid of the toilet seat only to have it come away in my hand. What the…

‘Andrew,’ I begin angrily, ‘the toilet seat …’

At that point I sit on the loo only to have it break underneath me. I’m halfway between the floor and the loo when the doctor walks in.

‘What are you doing?’ he asks to a chorus of wailing cats from outside.

What does he think I’m doing?  Toilet seat yoga? Honestly men!

I burst into tears.

‘The toilet seat broke and don’t say it is because I’m overweight. I’m not staying here,’ I blurt out. ‘It’s a dump. I want to go home.’

I want to go home? Have I gone mad? It’s nearly killed me to get this far. If I have to do a return journey now it will be in the body bag our insurance agreed to pay for. Can things get any worse? Andrew sneezes loudly.

‘Let’s go and explore and if we see another hotel that is nicer then we’ll check out of this one.’

If we seriously don’t see another hotel nicer than this one I’m likely to slash my wrists. I swallow my malaria tablet, dash to the useless loo one more time and tiredly follow him out for a walk.

To be continued.

Part 2 A new hotel and a promise of chocolate pancakes with a twist.

 

The Disastrous School Run as Performed by Lynda

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Only I can mess up the school run, although I do wonder why it’s called the school run. I don’t recall there being much running this morning, at least not at the start anyway. Oh no, I hear you groan, what went wrong this time? Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.

My grandson and I get on really well. We make cakes together, go for walks together and do arts and crafts together. Of course, these things are quite easy to do aren’t they? We’re going to the library together later, which is fun. So, I imagine my stepson thought who better to ask to take him to school than Lynda. Of course, normally they take him in themselves but Monday morning saw an important appointment come up and you know what happens if you cancel appointments. You end up waiting until you’re eighty for the next one to come up. I readily agree. I mean, how hard can it be, right?

Monday morning arrives and I drag my hung over body from the bed. Okay, okay, so Sunday night saw me consume just a little too much wine. I am allowed you know. It’s not like I’m going to drive him to the school under the influence is it? After all the school building is right next door and before you ask, yes, I do get up early some days and some nights I work late and get up later. A writer’s life is a complicated one. I wander downstairs where grandson is sleepily eating breakfast.

‘Good moaning,’ I smile.

Nothing, absolutely nothing.

‘He’s a bit dopey in the mornings,’ says stepson.

Dopey or grumpy I want to ask. But I just swallow two pain killers instead.

‘Will you be okay?’ asks stepson.

‘Sure,’ I say, more confidently than I actually feel. ‘Just remind me what I have to do.’

Although it can’t be much can it? Seriously, I just throw him into the classroom don’t I? I hear your gasps. You don’t really think I’d do that do you?

‘Take him in at about 8.45 and he’ll show you where his bag, coat and water bottle go. You can then sit with him until the music plays. That’s the time for parents to leave.’

How sweet. They play us out to music.

At twenty to nine I do battle with the shoes. Tuck him warmly inside his coat, hand him his satchel and off we go, straight next door. He excitedly shows me where his coat goes. I follow and say hello to his teacher. This is dead easy that I could do it with my eyes closed.

‘This is where my bag goes and this is …’

He turns and looks accusingly at me.

‘Where my water goes,’ he finishes.

Oh no.

‘Where is my bottle of water?’ He asks accusingly.

Good question. Where is the water bottle when you need it? still sitting on the table in our living room if I remember correctly.  Damn it.

‘Don’t go anywhere, I’ll be right back.’

Did he roll his eyes?

This is when I did the school run. I fly back to the house, grab the bottle and fly back to the school where he is waiting in the same place.

‘Where does it go?’ I pant.

He points to where a thousand other bottles sit. Okay, maybe not thousands but you get my drift. How can this be so difficult? I flop into the chair beside him and start helping him with his numbers. This is better. I can cope with this. In fact I get so into it that I even help the little girl who sits opposite. Then, before I know what is happening, grandson is standing up and pushing me.

‘You’ve got to go now. Go on, go.’

I hear the music playing and realise all the parents have left. Trust me to be last. They could at least play the music at decent volume. My grandson is blanking me now. I’m just one big embarrassment. I sneak out of the door and breathe a sigh of relief.

‘How did it all go,’ stepson asks me later.

‘Great. It was good fun this morning wasn’t it Matthew?’ I say to grandson.

He harrumphs and continues building his Lego. Oh, well, you can’t please all the people all of the time. However he loves me when we make cake.

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