Wine gums, please…..

July 7, 2017 at 9:54 pm 1 comment

I admit it. I am becoming a grumpy old (not so) man. Or at least, a grumpy old traveler. A curmudgeon. And, an intolerant one to boot. But it really isn’t my fault….

I started my trip to Eastern Europe (Bulgaria and Turkey) in fine form, irritated only slightly by the taxi driver’s inability to follow basic instructions or the map that I kindly provided, which meant he still ended up parking in a neighbour’s driveway across the road.

But the M25 was kind, and the all day breakfast at Heathrow was welcome – I think of it as my “last supper” on such trips, when the food available onboard planes and at hotels is a lottery which frequently disappoints.

My stress levels increased somewhat when my first flight, from London to Munich, was delayed by 15 minutes. This might not seem like a big deal but I only had 35 minutes – now 20 minutes – in Munich to catch my connecting flight in Sofia. I admit I sought solace in a bag of Maynards Wine Gums. Food of the gods….

Thankfully I made my connection after a brief, hot and sweaty sprint, with sparks flying from the wheels of my trolley bag.

And, with adrenaline finally giving way to a sugar rush, I began to settle in and observe my fellow travelers en route to Bulgaria. All manner of life was represented there….

To my left was a highly groomed Asian-looking man who was playing video games on his iPhone. He was sat next to his rather overweight wife who clutched a very expensive looking handbag from which she would snaffle a seemingly endless supply of sweets of her own, while slurping noisily on a full-fat Coca Cola and casting furtive, jealous glances at my ever depleted bag of wine gums, in between colouring in her colouring-in book.

But, not one of those ornate, intricate mindfulness colouring  jobbies designed at de-stressing adults lacking ready access to a bag of Maynards, but a child’s version with Princesses and unicorns…..

Behind me there was a greasy-haired German geek sporting, I kid you not, a cravat and a t-shirt. He was in his late twenties, maybe early thirties, and was attempting to engage a rather attractive Bulgarian young lady (with legs – I mean LEGS! –  a distracting midriff, and tattoos) in a rather one-sided conversation in which he explained that he was a nuclear physicist (or something similar) involved in attempts at harnessing the same power that an opera singer uses to shatter a glass with at the right pitch and frequency, in order to power batteries and thereby save the planet. Yawn.

Lady midriff did not seem impressed either and crossed her LEGS! and swiped at her iPhone.

Herr geek went on to explain how, having discovered as a student, that the chances of his matter and other geek-like nano particles crashing together and combining to create him as a life form, was a chance of so many billion to something very small, that he had decided he felt obligated to live his life to the full.

At which point lady midriff got distracted by her iPhone again and Dr geek finally got the message that he would not be living her to the full that evening…..

To my right there was a fat German who drank a couple of beers very quickly and then fell asleep, snoring very, very loudly as he exhaled and whistling very shrilly as he inhaled, like a Disney dragon guarding a hoard of gold.

I was beginning to wonder whether wine gums had hallucinogenic properties….

I spent a couple of days in Sofia, where I took in the sights of the Novotel and the local industrial park, before heading back to the airport for a fairly late flight to Istanbul. The joys of business travel….

The salami and cream cheese sandwich on board was frankly inedible And, as I was out of sugary confectionery supplies, I admit to being rather tired, hungry, and yes, grumpy as I arrived at my new Turkish Novotel, in the middle of a building site, in the middle of a new Turkish industrial park.

As a Gold card carrier I am supposed to get a free drink, a free upgrade, priority check in and check out, and to be revered as a godlike entity at any hotel of the Accor chain….

So, my mood was not helped when I was left standing for twenty minutes while the receptionist helped a couple of tourists with their plans for making the very best of their stay in a building site, in an industrial park, overlooking the ring road….

And, all the time that I was waiting they were piping Do They Know Its Christmas? into reception. In July. In Turkey. In 30 degrees.

I was not welcomed as a returning guest (yes, I had put myself through this before a year ago), or, indeed, as a god. I was not given a free upgrade. But I was informed that I qualified for a complimentary soft drink from the mini bar….

My spirits soared.

But not for long, as upon entering my not-upgraded room I found an empty mini bar and no sign of the iron and ironing board that I had expressly requested, and for which I had received email confirmation would be there to greet me upon arrival.

A grumpy call to reception and twenty minutes later, while I struggled in vain to bring life to the air-conditioning unit, I was in receipt of a steam iron and my free bottle of Evian…..

It was now 1.30 in the morning.

I awoke at 06.45, ironed my shirt, and discovered that the shower did not work….

Wine gums. Bring me wine gums now!



Entry filed under: middleman.

Home sweet home…. The real Game of Thrones….

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Patricia Pover  |  July 8, 2017 at 6:52 pm

    Did you attend the same School of Journalism as Jeremy Clarkson by any ch Chance? Loved the grumps P of R V Xxxx

    Sent from my iPad




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