Travels Again

In Deal, about 8 miles NE of Dover at the moment. Working for Geest tomorrow with a chap called Gary who got lost on the way here. Nice hotel, although the sound was a little crap on Sky Sports 2 (well done Boro, by the way. But don’t expect an easy second leg) but let’s face it – Playboy TV is pretty awful. I mean, what’s the point in porn when you can’t see anything?

My current question is whether to go on a booze cruise to France after work tomorrow. Nice to say I’ve been, but I just got back from somewhere where Black Label Smirnoff was going for £6 a litre.

Bloody Neilson’s

That bit below was all done on Sunday morning. I was due home about 3pm on Sunday. I got home at 5pm on Monday. I’ve missed a garage appointment, a dental appointment, a football match (about to go watch it down the pub despite having a ticket) and a whole day of time. And predominantly due to the weather and the inneptitude of Neilson’s management staff.

Due to snowfall and a broken snowplough, the usual route from Plas De La Casa to Toulouse was impassable. Another route is available – through Andorra, into Spain and back up. This would mean an additional 3 hours on the journey. Bear in mind that as we couldn’t get to the airport, the people who arrived there couldn’t get onto the resort, so the rooms we’d just left were vacant. The coach we were on was the one they’d need to reach them.

A decision was made – after we’d been in the coach for 3 or so hours, to head further down Spain to Barcelona airport. A hotel was booked and a flight arranged at lunchtime the next day. Time to Barca – maybe 2 hours.

Time taken to Barca – 8 hours.

The driver didn’t have a clue where he was going. The hotel was on the Costa Brava, a good two hours past Barca. And the driver kept telling the rep “another 15-20 minutes”, which is what she told us. 12 sodding hours on a coach. One meal break at a service station run by the world’s most rude services attendant, and with virtually no cash left from the week.

The dinner promised when we arrived at the hotel that evening was stone cold. Not surprising as we got there after 2:00am. To cap it all, we were up at 6:00am to get the bus back to the airport.

I can only say the reps were superb. But whoever made the decisions – and the coach driver – were a bunch of useless wankers. Letter of complaint in its way…

Back From Me Jollies

I admit, I was intending on keeping the blog up to date while I was away, but I’ve been either too skint, tired or pissed to bother for most of the week. We went to Pas De La Casa in Andorra and I’m writing this on the last night when I should be packing with the intention of posting it when I get back on Sunday.

The start wasn’t great with the flight being delayed by an hor or so which meant I had to get some kind folks back home to text me the result of our game at Old Trafford (0-0). No worries, though. Late arrival at the hotel meant we had about 30 mins to make a brief unpack and head for the “initiation” meeting where they try to sell you stuff.

We came out on top, though. As ever on holiday I wore my Toon top (all weel, in fact). The first bar we went into was Milwaukee’s and the first thing we saw was a mad, bald Geordie working one of the bars. We paid for our first drinks (about 3 quid a pint) and nothing else for the rest of the night. Thank you Mintoe!

Snowboarding started the next day. We both had afternoon lessons as the beginners were in the morning. I ended up in the “shit, but not shit enough to be a beginner” class with a rather nice Moroccan guy called Pascalle who was incredibly patient with a rather mixed bunch. The only bad point of the week, boarding wise, was one lass who broke her arm in a fall. At least she made it most of the way through the week unlike the last person I went with who ended up with her arm in plaster as a result of a fall on the first day.

The week ended with the group reduced from about 12 at the start to 6 on the final day. A certificate and a few drinks rounded things off nicely. Especially when we didn’t realise it was happy hour and ended up drinking twice as much as anticipated. Cue Pascalle wondering how on earth I wasn’t cold sat outside in a t-shirt at -5 degrees Celcius…

Other thoughts and events of the week:

Skiers are all bastards. OK, maybe not all of them. But they seem to be the ones who cause all the problems. According to Sharon’s snowboard-hating ski instructor, 70% of all accidents on the slopes involve boarders. Yes. That’s because 70% of the incidents involve some arsehole skier wiping them out.

I’ve only been boarding twice (and never been skiing), but every single time I’ve been wiped out (with the exception of while in beginner classes with other boarders) it’s been a skier who’s been to blame.

Biscuit-taker of the week was on the first day. A young girl – about 10 years old – was knocked flying by a skier. Her first ever time on the slopes and she ended up with a full leg cast. The cowardly shit that did it just sped off down the hill without stopping to see if she was alright.

And while I’m bashing, let’s have a word about the foreigners. I expect to be flamed mercilessly for this as I’m going to generalise something rotten but frankly I don’t care. Yesterday, I spotted a woman skier lose her footing on a red slope and go down clutching her leg. Snowboard still stuck to my feet, I bunny-hopped about 15 yards back uphil to retrieve here poles and make sure she was alright, which thankfully she was. “Thanks,” she said,”A German wouldn’t have bothered coming to help.”

Again on Saturday, we ended up going down a very nasty red (which wasn’t signposted – had we known, we’d have taken the alternate and very well hidden blue). It was heavy going, especially for the people ahead of us, one of whom got more or less stuck on one side. This meant Sharon couldn’t get past her as she needed to “swoop” from side to side to keep her speed down.

Somehow, she managed to get past, but slipped and landed on her side. Now Sharon can’t get back up again, especially on a slope as steep as that one was, withouth removing a ski and putting it back on again. Thing is, when she undid the ski it slid out of reach. A passing French skier slowed down, looked at her… then continued down the slope. Bastard.

Next step – undo the second. Unfortunately, the force of doing this made Sharon lose what grip she had on the slope. By this stage, I was about 3/4 of the way back up to her – a hell of a climb considering how knackered we were and the altitude. I looked up in time to see a red and black bejacketted missile sliding towards me on its back giggling like a schoolchild who’d just heard her first “willy” joke.

Amazingly, she missed me by about three feet and was brought to a gentle rest about fifty metres further down by a nice English family who’d stayed around to make sure we were both OK. I managed to reach one ski and was trying to work out how to get across to the second when another skiier appeared. French. Ignored me. Bastard.

I did manage to get the second one and slid down on my back at a vast rate of knots with the skis waving in the air. The same family made sure I was OK before leaving us.

So to date – England 7 (big family), France and Germany 0.

Typically, the weather’s not been the best this week with only a light dash of snow one night. As a result, many of the slopes have been icy and difficult to traverse for a novice like myself. Teatime on Saturday night… and there’s a blizzard outside. In the last 90 minutes or so, more than an inch has fallen. Ah well.

Welcome to Wales – We Take Cheques

Another one. I don’t believe this. I’m not going to Wales again. Two trips, three speeding tickets. This one on the A449. If anyone can tell me where the damn camera is (I sure as hell didn’t see one), I’d be most grateful. I think they’ve just got a guy at the side of the road who stands there and notes random car numbers down for a laugh.

There certainly aren’t any signs on that road warning of cameras – if there were, I’d not have been speeding. Which kind of tells you that the camera can’t be there to reduce accidents. Nice to know I’m funding the next policeman’s ball. If they’d have asked I’d have given a donation.

Interesting fact – there are approximately 4000 speed cameras in the UK. The number of those on the most “dangerous” 50 roads, those which suffer the greatest number of accidents? Six.

Sorry, I’m all for putting them up around schools and so on. Anyone doing more than the limit in an area where kids could be walking and playing deserves to have their license taken off them with immediate effect. But on a relatively quiet, two-lane, straight A-road in the middle of nowhere with no serious accident record? *Ker-ching*

And as for that muppet who’s running the police in North Wales… good grief. “Accidentally drifting over the speed limit is tantamount to accidentally drifting a knife into someone.” What?! No it isn’t! Check out the crime figures since this Road Nazi took over as well. OK, so they’re prosecuting motorists left, right and centre. Very profitable. But they’ve posted the worst ever prosecution record for theft, robbery and so forth in decades.

Am I alone in thinking that doing 80 in a 70 zone is a little more forgiveable than battering Granny Miggins over the head with a hammer so I can make off with her pension book? Or smashing into the Smith’s house and nicking all their kids’ Christmas presents?

North Wales Police – reality check, please. No, I wasn’t nabbed by North Wales. I got done by the jobsworths in Gwent (again). It just pisses me off.