A Fine Romance

Because nothing says I love you like a speeding fine.

Not even the M&S heart-shaped sausage.

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Say it with sausages

One mph over the limit. One!

I know, I know (Dad) – I ‘broke the speed limit’ regardless. And when that camera flash goes off at midnight, it gives you the fright of your life.

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Say ‘cheese’

Was it me?

Maybe it was it the car in front of me? (Please let it be the car in front of me.)

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Or maybe, just maybe, for once, please let that ‘urban myth’ be true…

The one that claims if the camera does a ‘double flash’, then there’s no film inside.

Letter confirmed there was definitely film inside the camera. In some situations it’s worth contesting…

“I think I was being followed by a gang”…

“My foot slipped on the pedal”…

‘It wasn’t me”…

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It wasn’t him either

I now have a choice to make. Points or speed awareness course? No prizes for guessing the choice I made.

At this point, I will admit that I reckon I’m probably one of the few people to actually quite enjoy attending a speed awareness course. Seriously.

1) I got out of the school run

2) No-one could bother me for 4 hours

3) I could ‘people watch’ to my heart’s content

What’s not to like?

So, for anyone who hasn’t ‘done one’, you basically book a morning or afternoon slot on any chosen day, at a venue close to you. A bit like a cinema booking for a very long film, but one that costs you about £100 and doesn’t offer any fun snacks.

I opted for the morning slot to ‘get it out of the way’ and when you book, you have the choice of a ‘flexible’ or ‘non-flexible’ booking:

Non-flexible: you’re booked on. That’s it. If you can’t make it on the day for any reason, they don’t care and you have to pay £100 again to book in for future date.

Flexible: for an extra £12, you can change your time and date as many times as you like in the build up to the course date. Initially I thought “no way, I’m not giving them any more of my money!”, but course-savvy friends said it’s worth it in case things crop up and you need to re-arrange. I think I changed my date about 4 times in the run up because stuff kept cropping up.

The day finally arrived – rotas were in place to take my kids to school, whilst their criminal mother went off to serve her time.

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These gals chose the afternoon course 

As I pulled into the hotel car park where the course was being held, I felt like I was off to have an illicit affair. (A few people loitering outside having a morning fag looked as if they were just finishing up their illicit affair…)

I followed signs ‘welcoming’ me to the course, signed in and took a seat at one of the circular tables in the conference room. On the tables were water, informtation booklets, pens and some Murray Mints in a bowl. It was a bit like a supper quiz. But no supper. And no prizes.

The room filled up and the guy who had checked us in did some intros and ‘a quick bit of housekeeping’ for the 25 of us in the room – fire exits, phones off, etc.

Four hours to go.

The door then opened and another guy waltzed in and joined the star act at the front, cracking a joke about being late and ‘don’t worry – I didn’t speed to get here’. Oh hurrah – a double act.

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No. Ant wasn’t there…

The first question was posed.

‘Why do you think you’re here?’

This was swiftly answered with a heckle of ‘cos we got caught!’ from a bloke at table one.

I took a look around the room and there really was a broad cross-section of people. All ages and races. Real sweet faces. Every different nation, Spanish, Hatian, Indian, Jamaican. Black, White, Cuban, and Asian. I only came for two days of playing. But every time I come I always wind up stayin’. This the type of town I could spend a few days in
Miami the city that keeps the roof blazin’…

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Sorry – briefly lost myself there. Which happened a lot during the course.

I can’t help it. I get easily distracted by things.

There was a pen spinner sitting at my table – this fascinates the hell out of me. I have a friend who can do this. I am unable to do this. I want to be able to do this.

I started doing an awards ceremony in my head: best dressed, worst dressed, most annoying, etc.

An hour into things, I thought I would cash in the first of my toilet breaks. They mentioned loo breaks during ‘housekeeping’ but didn’t mention any limits and a friend told me to take lots of loo breaks to kill a bit of time. Which I did. One every hour. If anyone was doing the awards thing, I definitely won ‘worst bladder’.

There were lots of presentation slides where you had to anticipate things that might ‘happen’, based on positioning of cars, roads, signage. A bit like that scene from ‘Men in Black’ where Will Smith is on target practice.

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“Eight-year-old white girl. Middle of the ghetto. Bunch of monsters. This time of night. With quantum physics books. She’s about to start some shit. She’s about eight years old, those books are way too advanced for her. If you ask me, I’d say she’s up to something.”

(Fully aware this is the second Will Smith reference. I’m just over-excited about Bad Boys 3.)

More slides, more discussions about scenarios, more hammering home about speeding and the catchy ‘only a fool breaks the 2 second rule’. (Basically, as a driver you should stay at least two seconds behind any vehicle that is directly in front of you. Applicable at any speed.)

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Far simpler than understanding the offside rule

I honestly did learn alot, including the speed limit for goods vehicles on a single carriageway. (50mph if you wanted desperately to know.)

I hope you enjoyed reading this and if you’ve got a course coming up, there might be a slide about observation. And how quickly you can react to something. It’s a picture of a messy desk with all kinds of stationery on it. The question that preceeds the slide is ‘how many pencils are there?’

I got the answer immediately. Just remember to alway look outside the box… Unknown-16.jpeg

x

 

 

Holiday Romance

We were only away for ten days but the washing pile to rival Mount Everest tells a very different story. I know it makes more work for me but I respond well to instructions so if it says ‘wash separately’, I’m abiding by the label’s rules.

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I can’t take credit for this mountain

Swimwear is hand-washed, kids’ toy bunnies/penguins are boil-washed and everyone has a thorough shower and hair wash to rid us of ‘plane smell’.

I managed three films plus half a ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm‘ outbound. Husband watched seven hours of the ‘where our plane is’ channel, mixed with an hour of ‘chatting’ (having therapy) to a pilot who happened to be a passenger. (To be fair on husband, even the crew were told to take their seats because the turbulence was so bad.)

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Are we there yet?

Flying and turbulence doesn’t phase me – maybe that’s why I don’t have a problem with rollercoasters, but I have lots of friends who fear plane journeys. Many of their trips have been booked and then cancelled last-minute because they can’t face the reality of having to board a plane.

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I admit I do have one ritual before boarding the plane – I like to pat it. (The plane. what else did you think I meant?) After boarding at the furthest gate* from the terminal possible, I walk the jetway and casually touch the plane’s exterior as I step aboard. I don’t know why, but I like knowing the ‘bit’ I touched will make contact with the clouds. (I know rayyyt?)

*Briefly back to the gate bit. I just need some reassurance that no-one’s gate is ever within a 2 minute walk from wherever they’re been sitting. And there are always stairs. Or escalators that don’t work. 

This year, my family holidayed in America and aside from the ‘Ice Breakers’, clothing and essential US-drugstore purchases, we came back with something else this year. New numbers in our phones.

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We made friends.

Unheard of. Absurd. Unthinkable.

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What he said

Unless the outbound journey is purposefully taken with another family, we tend to be fairly unsociable on holiday. But this year was different.

Maybe it was because the first part of our trip was to Disney. That part required regimented schedules, timings and finite planning. Not the kind of thing easily done with others. It was all about us – the team. We were in the parks most days by 7am and in bed with delirium by 9pm.

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“Hello, Room Service?”

After four days of (exhausting) fun we were ready to relax in Miami. Maybe it was jet lag? Maybe our guards were down from all the rides and 3D craziness? Before you could say ‘have a nice day’ we were breakfasting, lunching and even ‘dinnering’ with this other family.

It was all moving so fast, so of course there were moments of doubt. Like waiting in reception to go for dinner one night and no sign on of them at the agreed departure time. Perhaps they were bored of us? Maybe their Uber had left for the restaurant already? Were they ‘late types’? We were confused and bewildered.

“You call.”

“No. You call.”

Like the pivotal end scene from a John Hughes movie, they appeared from the lobby. (Cue 80s soundtrack, like Starship or something equally as powerful and uplifting.)

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“He showed.” (Yay Andrew McCarthy for turning up for the date)

Our friends had an early riser in their ranks in the form of a five-year-old, so we were on slightly different morning schedules. We usually passed them just as they were leaving breakfast, but were delighted to hear “got you four sunbeds”. Well, if Carlsberg made holiday friends, I tell you…

The space allowed us to politely nod and chat to other guests getting their morning fill of the great American breakfast. (Mostly Jews getting their fill of bacon. Talking of which…)

My friend’s in-laws were in the same hotel as us and I bumped into the dad by the hot food one sunny morning. I politely chatted whilst he munched crispy sticks of applewood bacon ‘on-the-go’.

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The heroin of bacon

“Wow,” I thought, “he really must love bacon that he can’t even wait until he sits down to eat it.”

I headed out to the terrace and saw the wife, who ushered me over with a big smile. I said how I’d just been chatting to her husband over his plate of treif. The smile disappeared. She was livid and had no idea he was ‘on the bacon’. Whoops…

Me and my new mates even took our new friendship outside of the hotel, heading off on adventures like lifelong buddies.

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On tour

 

So delightfully in tune we were, that a nod and a wink was all that was required to understand that easily pilfered items like bagels, cookies and mini breakfast cereal packets were to be lifted for ‘daytime sustenance’.

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Frosted Flakes were super popular

Oh the fun we had. We created ‘in’ jokes and hashtags and social media’d the crap out of the holiday.

But after all’s said and done and the cases have been put back in the loft, is it ever really the same once you’re back on home ground?

Of course not.

For a start they’re called ‘Frosties’ and we don’t eat bacon at home.

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They’re grrrrrreat!

Happy New Year. x x x