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Just Another Manic Monday – Installment 2

Monday, 1st January 2018

After neglecting you for a few weeks, here’s the second part of the “Gill Gets Sick In Gran Canaria” as a way to wish you all Happy New Year. Better late than never…

So last time I told you about my frantic rail journey to meet my sick friend that was flying into Manchester Airport, if you can remember back that far. Here’s what happened next…

(Oh and if you didn’t read the post Just Another Manic Monday Installment 1, or need a memory refresher, I suggest you take a quick look now so that at least this part of the story will hopefully make some sense to you.)

As the train pulled into Manchester Airport Railway Station, I could feel my heart jumping out of my chest. I was waiting by the doors of the train for the flashy light to illuminate the “OPEN” button and also waiting for one of the many people that I had text to please, please, please, send me the requested number of the friend that Gill was travelling with.

The second of Gill’s potential flight had landed 5 minutes earlier and I still had no word from her. When I called it went straight to voicemail, so I suspected that she had’t got a single one of my multiple messages that I’d sent, begging her to stay put and wait for me.

It was looking anything but good at this stage and I pleaded with my mind to stay far away from all of the dark places that it kept trying to creep off to.

Finally the irritating little door bleep sounded that it was time to alight the train, and I looked for the exit and followed signs to Terminal 2. My last hope of finding my friend.

As I was scaling the sedentary escalators that seemed intent of hindering my journey even further, my phone vibrated with life to alert me that someone had sent me the friend’s number. Result.

I copied the number and pressed call, my blood pounding in my ears as I heard the dial tone ring out.

“Hello?” Said an exhausted and unhappy sounding voice.
“Oh, er, Hi!” I stammered. “It’s Amy Weaver here, Gill’s friend. I’ve just arrived at Manchester Airport to meet her, and am making my way to the terminal now to take her home. Where are you? Are you with her?” I gabbled and garbled breathlessly.
“You’ll not be meeting Gill. She’s gone straight to hospital in an ambulance. It doesn’t look good. We’re still on the plane, waiting to get off.” came the reply.
“Oh my God!” was all I could manage, my worst fears now a reality.
Silence as I tried to figure out what to do or say next.
“Well I’ll meet you guys in arrivals and then I can collect her bags and car and go to the hospital.” was the best that I could come up with.
“OK. We’ll meet you there.” came the reply.

I felt sick. A combination of a 3.30am start, a day of travel, a lack of any real food save half a tub of chocolate roll crumbs, and a seriously sick friend.

“It doesn’t look good.”
Those words went round and round in my head.
That’s what we say when a horse has an unsurvivable injury. Or an elderly relative nears the end.

What the f@#k was going on? What was I doing in Manchester Airport at close to 10pm at night? And why by the way was it completely f@#king deserted? I suddenly realised that the whole place was completely devoid of people.

Since leaving the train platform, I’d seen no-one, the escalator had not been working and there was still not a soul in sight. Apart from the lights being on, there was not a single sign of life. And I’d walked miles. Where was this bloody terminal? I’d been following signs, but this now all seemed like part of a bad dream. How had I wound up in a maze of fluorescent lit walkways and empty check-in halls in Manchester Airport in the final few hours on a Monday night? And where was Gill, what the hell and happened to her and the question I didn’t want to ask, was she going to be OK? If this was a just dream please, please let me wake up in a hot sweat in my bed right now.

I didn’t wake up, but I did finally come to the arrivals hall, where I paced up and down, checking the TV monitors, that displayed the Las Palmas flight as having landed, and one more jet from Greece that was still in the sky.

There was a smattering of semi excited friends and relatives waiting in the Costa Coffee, plus one bloke with a hand written sign saying “Mr Garibaldi” which I wondered aimlessly if it was his real name or some kind of “code”.

Finally, the automatic sliding doors burst open and the first few sunburnt Brits started making their way towards the small crowd, grumbling about the delay to their flight and being back in “Bloody Britain”.

Waiting for someone at an airport, is not something that I’ve done much of thankfully, normally I’m the one doing the arriving and I always hurry out purposefully as I feel totally awkward with the gallery of eyes starring at me, knowing that none of them are waiting for me.

Airport Arrivals

Today I was part of that gallery and to be honest I felt even more awkward than when having to do the “no-one is waiting for me walk of shame”. I vaguely knew one of the girls that had been on holiday with Gill, I had no idea who the other person was at all.

Eventually I recongnised the friend of Gill’s that I knew, who was accompanied by another woman and two airline personnel, who were wheeling Gill’s humongous suitcase.

“Hi!” I said. And took control of the large bag that must’ve contained Gill’s entire wardrobe, cupboard and all.
“We’re staying at an airport hotel tonight, where our cars are, and have a taxi voucher to get there.” said Gill’s friend.
“OK. So should I come back with you? I can pick up Gill’s car and then go to the hospital.” I suggested.
“Ok great. We need some sleep.” she replied.
“And I need a fag!” piped up the other lady.

After thanking the airline personnel for all their help, we left the arrivals hall and set off in search of where the taxis were located.

Honestly, I was too scared to actually ask how Gill was, subscribing to the ignorance is bliss methodology, and asking if they’d had a “good holiday” seemed kind of pointless and frankly quite crass. Instead I opted to become navigator to the taxi rank, which happened to be all the way back over by the train station.

When we got in the taxi I fell back on my defense mechanism of making jokes, even though it was clearly quite a serious situation. I just didn’t know what else to do and I was also crammed underneath Gill’s giant suitcase, as the taxi driver evidently thought that an old Ford Escort was an appropriate vehicle for airport collections, so to me, making light of the grave yet bizarre scenario seemed the appropriate thing to do at the time.

It was somewhere on the drive to the hotel, through the winding lanes of Cheshire, in the pitch black, with the weight of all Gill’s clobber compressing my thighs, that I remembered what car Gill drove when I last saw her. Maybe I shouldn’t have been so snobbish about the Taxi man’s choice of wheels. But she surely couldn’t still have the same old “Dogmobile” could she? With the poor pooch was sadly no longer with us, I hoped that she upgraded for something a little more roomy and modern. Anyway, there’s no way that old thing would’ve made it as far as Manchester. I doubt it was even legal to take it on the motorway.

When we pulled up at the hotel, it was the first vehicle that I saw. Gill’s 17 year old Ford Fiesta proudly parked right outside the front door to this posh hotel. I couldn’t believe it. We collected the key from reception and as I hauled her luggage into the tiny boot, I mentally added “calling the AA” to the random collection of events that had somehow taken place over the last 24 hours.

Ford Fiesta 2001

The “Dogmobile”!

Surprisingly it started straight away! I just hoped that its owner was as resilient as the feisty little Fiesta.

The kind lady at reception, printed me out directions to the Wythenshawe Hospital, which was great as my phone was flashing only 2% battery, and I said goodbye to the others, promising to update them by text as soon as I had any news.

I was cold, alone, it was dark, my friend was clearly very sick, I was in a “vintage” car and I not ashamed to admit that I was scared. The printed directions weren’t really of much help in the pitch black, and the only saving grace was that the heating in the car was working and there was lots of fuel.

I kept pulling over near the occasional street lights that I came across, checking my map, as the torch function on my phone was no longer alive. It was by now fast approaching midnight, I wasn’t insured, I hadn’t a clue where I was or how to get to where I needed to be, and I was driving seriously erratically owing to the narrow lanes, huge puddles, sticky gears and general lack of driving practice in recent years.

At this stage, I wasn’t sure if getting pulled over by the police would be a blessing in disguise or add insult to injury. I pictured myself sobbing into the arms of an understanding copper, who would escort me to the hospital blue lights and all. Either that or I’d be spending a night in the cells, whilst Gill withered away in her hospital bed.

My map said that I should be nearly there. Left at the end of this road and then the hospital should be located a short way down the first right turn. I’d nearly made it! But then I came around the corner to find the road completely flooded. If I’d have had the energy at this point I actually would’ve started crying. But I was drained, completely devoid of emotion, so I sat there, the car quietly ticking over while I contemplated what to do.

Option a) Drive through the water at a slow yet even speed, hoping not to flood the engine, as my phone battery was now completely dead, so there would be no way I could call anyone to rescue me if the river proved to be deeper than the low slung vehicle.
Option b) Make a “U” turn and find another way to this godforsaken hospital down these damn country lanes.
Option c) Floor it and hope for the best. Even though I know that this is not the correct way to drive through water or fords, such as this lake seemed to be.

I chose a cautious, yet potentially foolish Option A, and then changed to option C about halfway through, unable to control my trigger foot that just leapt on the gas. Somehow I made it to the other-side, despite creating a mini tsunami in the process. This was it, the home straight! And in another 5 minutes, I was pulling into a brightly lit yet massively confusing modern hospital complex, wondering which of the many signposted departments they might have taken my friend to…

To be continued…


Sunday 24th December 2017

First of all apologies for not giving you the rest of the “Gill Story” yet. It is nearly finished, and maybe I’ll have it ready for Boxing Day, so that you can read it in between the sport on TV, classic movies, leftover turkey, too many sweets and arguments with the family, if they’re still hanging around. We’ll call it a belated Christmas present to my many faithful readers.

In advance of Christmas though, and in absence of the conclusion of my Gill induced Manic Monday, here’s a little free something for you to read instead. Click to download for free for UK or click here to download for USA.

It’s Hippomottie’s Christmas Story, an enchanting, rhyming, festive read, and it’s FREE to download on Amazon & Kindle on Christmas Eve & Christmas Day.
I really hope that you enjoy it, and if you do, then please take a moment to leave a review on Amazon. If you hate it please feel free to troll me on any/all social media.

Now don’t forget to leave the mince pies and milk out for Rudolph and Father Christmas and no peeking at the presents under the tree until everyone’s awake.

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope that you all get what you wished for!

Just Another Manic Monday – Installment 1

Wednesday, 13th December 2017

Sorry I haven’t written in a while, but honestly not much has happened that you’d be interested in. Most days I’ve been very busy looking at horses, horses and more horses. I’ve seen practically every thoroughbred with four working legs in both Ireland, England and France, and even some with only three and a half. I won’t bore you with all the details, so instead I will pick up the story from where I left it last time.

It was Monday 28th November, and I had landed in London Heathrow after a short flight from Dublin, and head straight into the centre of the City to pick up my new nationality credentials.

After gaining my shiny new ID card, I took a couple of trains and arrived in Newmarket a few hours later. It had already been quite a long day, and I was ready for a rest, but unfortunately, I’d had a phone call from my Newmarket host the day before.

The call went like this:

Me: “Hello?”
Gill: “Hi, it’s me.”
Me: “Hi Gill, how are you?”
Gill: “I’m in hospital.”
Me: “Oh my God what the f#@k have you done now?”

(If Gill wrote down her life in a similar way to this memoir, I swear we’d all be wearing incontinence pants when reading it, as she is very amusing, a touch clumsy and is one of the few people in his world that manages to get into as many, if not more, misfortunate situations than I do. Like one time when she was driving the horse-box to the races and she got a call from the office to say that she’d left her grooms stranded in the petrol station after filling up with petrol some eight miles back. You couldn’t make up half of the stuff that she gets herself into, so I wasn’t entirely surprised that she was calling me from a medical institution.).

Gill: “I’m not well, but you can still stay at mine tomorrow, just call Nicola and get the key.”
Me: “Well are you alright? What’s wrong with you? Where are you? And what happened?”
Gill: “I’m OK. I’m in intensive care in Gran Canaria. You can still stay at mine though.”
Me: “WHAT THE F@#K? Gill what the f@#k are you doing in intensive care in Gran Canaria? Why do you care where I’m going to sleep tomorrow? And what can I do to help.”
Gill: “No I’m OK. I’m on holiday out here, but then I got ill. They thought it was meningitis, but now they don’t think it is.”
Me: “What the f…”
Gill: “Don’t worry, you can still stay at mine though. Just get the key. Gotta to go I don’t feel well.”
And with that she hung up.

I was stunned. Gill is one of my oldest friends, and by that I mean that I’ve known her for twenty odd years, not that she’s an octogenarian that is residing in God’s waiting room. She’s only a few years older than me and although I hadn’t seen her recently, she’s a non smoking, non drinking, fairly fit vegetarian.

I didn’t quite know what to do, so i googled “flights to Gran Canaria” and then sent her a few texts.

(Michael is a fish by the way.)

She insisted that she was “fine” and told me not to come out to the Canary Islands to meet her, even when I said that I’d be delighted to come out just for the weather, even if she really was “fine”.

By the time I got to Newmarket, the latest information that I had on her condition was that she was so “fine” that the Doctors had discharged her and she’d still be making her intended flight some time later that day.

I called Nicola (the keeper of the key and Gill’s best friend) to see if this was true or if she’d gone delirious, and found out that indeed Gill had gone straight from intensive care to the airport without passing Go or collecting $200.

Now I knew that Gill was flying into Manchester airport, which is a good (or even bad) four and a half hour drive home to Newmarket. I also knew that the two friends that she’d gone with lived in the opposite direction and that Gill’s car was at the airport waiting for her to drive it home.

I also knew that Gill was equally as stubborn as me and would attempt to drive it home no matter what state that she was in.

Things I did not know were a) What flight she was on. b) What time her flight was due in. c) What terminal it came into. d) Where her car was. e) If her brother has gone to collect her.

Despite being in the dark about all of these things, I suddenly found myself back on the platform of Newmarket train station, buying a ticket to Manchester Airport train station, but not before attempting to fill Gill’s fridge full of food for her pending arrival home.

This was a nice gesture in theory, but seeing as I haven’t been to a supermarket in about 4 years and have no idea what vegetarians eat except vegetables and Quorn, it was a bit of a lame effort.

After agonising in the bread aisle for about forty minutes, I ended up at the check out with a basket containing a half loaf of white bread, a block of medium cheddar cheese, some semi skimmed milk and six large free range eggs. Probably not the kind of convalescing food that the Doctor ordered, but seeing as she was most likely ignoring his instructions, I figured that I could too.

And being that by cooking skills are limited to toast, French toast, cheese on toast, cheese sandwiches, boiled eggs and toast, or omelettes, then I think that the ingredients were more than satisfactory to fulfill my scarcely rehearsed culinary repertoire.

Plus after the bread dilemma, I’d manned up and decided that I’d be safe and pick the middle product in each category, hence the mediumness of the cheese and semi skimmed milk. I know nothing about milk, skimmed or otherwise, but I’d heard of semi skimmed milk and it seemed a popular choice with the other shoppers in that aisle.

Anyway, I digress. By now I was on a train inching its way towards Cambridge (the Newmarket to Cambridge line is more of an upmarket tram and goes about as fast as a pushchair with the brakes on).

Once I got to Cambridge, it was express all the way, but unfortunately it did involve going the wrong way, as I had to go South back into London, to where I’d been only a few hours earlier to pick up the high-speed train North to where I wanted to be.

For sustenance I’d managed to pick up a couple of tubs of Marks & Spencers mini rolls in London and ended obliterating them into chocolatey crumbs by running at top speed through the underground tunnels, to catch the tube to my connecting station.

I should mention at this point that I’d left in rather a hurry and only had the two round tubs of chocolate mini rolls to keep me alive and my small handbag for company.

I never ever carry a handbag anywhere, so I surprised myself that I had found it and taken it with me. I had no book, not enough clothes on, and my handbag contained 14 hair grips, an empty tube of lip balm, two pieces of very stale chewing gum, 1 out of date condom and my bank card. Awesome. There’s nothing like being prepared for a five-hour train journey that included 5 changes.

Thankfully though my odd collection of belongings were reasonably light, so my being unencumbered during my sprint through the subway corridors, meant I managed to shave a bit of time of the arduous trip and got a slightly earlier train to Manchester.

This was great, as on the way down to London, I’d checked the incoming flight arrivals and found that there were two planes arriving from Las Palmas that day, and I was now due to arrive in only 40 minutes behind the second one. Which after baggage reclaim give me a good shot of being able to catch Gill.

With the Manchester train being my longest of the day, I contemplated what might happen when I actually got to the airport.

Scenario a) Gill was on the earlier flight and would now be half way back to Newmarket. I’d be forking out for a hotel in Manchester, before buying another extortionate rail ticket to get home some time the next day.
b) Gill’s brother had turned up to collect her, and like a wally I’d wasted half a day and a hundred quid chasing all over the country needlessly.
c) My sick friend finds me waiting in arrivals with two tubs of smashed chocolate mini rolls and think’s I’m a good friend albeit one that brings inappropriate gifts for invalids to airports.
d) Gill ends up in Portugal or similar after being so ill that they have to divert the aeroplane.

After this my thoughts started to wander to some rather dark places, so I gave up wondering what might happen next and spent the rest of the journey willing the train to go quicker, whilst texting her again NOT LEAVE THE AIRPORT, hoping that at least one of the 27 messages that I’d sent her would get through when she landed and turned her phone on.

I checked the flight arrivals once more, and saw that the first flight from Las Palmas had landed 45 minutes earlier. I was still 12 minutes from Manchester Piccadilly and had to catch another train from there to reach the airport.

The second flight was now showing a 52 minute delay. Either way this was not good news. If she was on the early flight, she’d be gone well before I could run breathlessly across the airport like some kind of demented movie buff recreating their favourite love scene. And if she was on the second flight, why was it now delayed? Had they had to divert to drop her off? Despite the freezing temperatures I was starting to sweat.

In Piccadilly I caught another break and got on the a late departing airport train meaning that I would arrive there exactly at the time that the delayed flight number 2 was now due to land at. I still couldn’t obtain a working number for her brother, and I didn’t have either of the phone numbers for the two friends that she was travelling with.

This had all the hallmarks of something that was bound to end badly. But I decided whatever the outcome, I was glad that I was there. I would like somebody to do the same for me if the situation was reversed and despite silently cursing her for not booking her holiday from the local airport of Stansted, the worst that could happen to me was having to spend a night in a low-budget hotel in Manchester and another day of inter-railing it around the country to get back to my origin. In the grand scheme of things, looking like a wally, a bit of spent cash and time meant nothing compared to the health, well-being and comfort of my little friend…

To be continued…

Back To Blighty

Monday 27th November 2017

I used to travel a lot. During my days as a racehorse trainer, I was catching and also missing flights on a regular basis. Now, despite the fact that technically I’m perpetually on the move from one place to another aboard my floating home, I feel like an airport outsider.

I used to be enjoy catching up on the gossip with the Louis who worked behind the counter at Yo Sushi in Stansted Airport, who was always delighted to see his only customer that ever ate full on sushi before six in the morning.

I was also on first name terms with Bill, who used to handle the check in counter for Delta Airlines at Heathrow Terminal 4. He’d always ask me “Where are you off to today Miss Amy?” And wish me a safe and pleasant journey when he’d finished checking in my bag of riding boots and other essential accessories.

I used to be a bit of an aviation geek. OK I still am one, albeit an out of practice one.

Now there isn’t even a Yo Sushi in Stansted Airport at all, which makes me wonder what’s become of Louis… And BTW Stansted, you’ve missed a trick there as I used to relish overpaying for raw fish early in the day and now keep my hard earned money in my shallow pocket, because instead you’ve filled the place with overpriced boutiques and designer department stores like Harrods. Seriously, who buys a four figure Parker pen *other brands also equally overpriced, when you can still nick perfectly good pocket sized writing implement from any upstanding High Street bookmakers office?

I must also have matured a bit in my absence from regular flying, at this morning I was one of those crazy folk that gets to the airport early. By early I mean 1 hour and 10 minutes before my flight left (I’d online checked in and had hand luggage only.). I didn’t even have to run through the airport at all. Nor did I get to express it through security in the “Late Lane”. Honestly I didn’t really know what to do with myself.

The only circumstances that I spend any considerable amount of time in an airport is when I a) Have a long layover. Or b) Have missed my intended flight and have to wait three hours for the next one.

Except one time when I slept in Dublin airport on New Year’s Day morning as I was to tight to pay for a hotel room, but that’s a story for a while other occasion.

So today I’m doing my usual, hanging out, re-packing my carry on so that I have all I need in my hands, as I know that they’re going to check in all the bags anyway due to lack of space, and generally just passing the time until all the wallys that have been queuing for the last 40 minutes have got onboard. Indecently the plane only turned up 20 minutes ago, so for half the time they were queuing for something that didn’t even exist yet.

When the last few stragglers wandered up to the helpful ladies dressed in Aer Lingus green, I gathered my affairs and approached them, just as they were making a final boarding call for the flight.

Now with these new fangled e-boarding cards that you download on your phone, I’d decided to do something which I thought was rather clever, as I’m always left flailing about with my big fat sausage fingers trying to get my old slow phone to show the correct page, and in the process creating a considerably large queue behind me.

What I did today was, to save my boarding pass photo as my lock screen so that I’d have it at the click of just one button.

It worked excellently passing through security and the immigration guys, but now the little laser barcode scanner flatly refused to accept my genius plan. So much so that the next announcement that was trilled out to the entire airport was a call for “MISS AMY WEAVER TO GATE 408 IMMEDIATELY PLEASE!”.

“That’s me!!” I shrieked to the poor woman who was trying to help me work my modern technology not so smart device. “Right here, trying to check in!” I continued mortified that I’d still somehow managed to get summoned like a naughty school girl despite being extra on time today.

Wait for me!!!

Eventually, after changing the brightness settings on my phone, I managed to prove that I had actually paid for a seat, and they let me through, to shuffle sheepishly up to the queue of wallys, who were by now congesting the aisle whilst trying to sort their belongings and find their seats. You’d think they could’ve done all that instead of standing aimlessly in a line for three quarters of an hour.

Still who am I to judge, I’m the one who got their name announced over the pa system. And not for the first time either…

Upon arriving at London’s Heathrow airport, I got another example of my lack of recent air travel, as I didn’t have the faintest clue which terminal that I’d arrived into. Before I could’ve told you all about all of them, where the nearest convenience was, which were the best shops with the shortest queue to buy a soft drink from, and when and where to get the best snacks. I could’ve guided myself through one blindfolded.

Today though, I had absolutely not a clue where I was. It didn’t actually matter as I was catching the underground into Central London, so just put my head down, fought through the crowds and followed the signs to The Tube. I still have no idea which terminal I arrived in. I guess I could Google it to find out but I’ve decided that I’m not that fussed.

Anyway that’s pretty much it for my opinions on air travel. Nothing much else to report from last week, everyday followed pretty much the same pattern; Look at 300 odd horses, consult my Magic 8 ball to see which ones of them might be future champions (Ask Again Later), and then assist my very knowledgeable new boss on which ones looked the least wonky-legged and encouraged her to throw in one more bid on the cute shiny ones. Lather, Rinse, Repeat.

I did manage to do some damage to my shoulder/back somehow though. After years of falling off fast horses with barely a scratch, I manage to severely injure myself by sleeping in an awkward position and have been in some quite considerable pain for the last few days. Go me! So whoever has the voodoo doll with my face on it, please kindly take the knife out of my back. Please please please.

Oh and why was I going to London in the first place? To claim a new Nationality. But more about that another time maybe…

My Mental Life

Monday 20th November 2017

My life has always been very strange. And honestly, if anything, it just gets weirder. I’m sure that regular readers will know that I used to be a racehorse trainer. A passion that I thankfully grew out of, after years of brutally hard work and an unequal struggle to make ends meet. Instead I ran away to sea to become a casino dealer on a cruise ship, something I’d dreamed of since my flirtation as a card dealer in London’s prestigious Mayfair district, many years earlier.

Once aboard the cruise ship, I met a guy. Not in the romantic, he swept me off my feet kind of way, but one that dragged me into an altogether unfamiliar world of children toys, e-commerce and crowdfunding (Like I said, my life could never be described as conventional.).

This was a huge surprise to everyone. Not  least myself. For I have never been what you’d call a fan of the little people. Quite honestly I’m petrified by their freakishly small and constantly sticky hands. Their near translucent fingers make me heave when stretched out in search of a hug or my bar of chocolate, that I’d never dream of sharing with them in a month of Sundays.

But it seems I might be mellowing slightly, largely I’m sure thanks to Hippomottie, the incredibly cute and popular Space Hippo Learn To Dress Toy that my business partner and I invented together in a cabin on a cruise ship. I even picked a child up the other day. And we then spent a whole afternoon grovelling around on the floor playing together. Don’t worry though, no need to ring the Child Welfare Services just yet, I still have absolutely no inclination to have my own one…

Currently I’m on vacation from the cruise ship, which after working 7 days a week continously for the last 6 months, would make you think that I’d choose a relaxing break on a beach, or even just laying on a comfy couch in front of a television somewhere, but no, in line with the rest of my life, I chose a not so relaxing selection of things to keep me busy in my downtime. If nothing else you could describe me as consistently eccentric.

At the start of week 3 of my vacation, I’m already onto the third “job” of my break. Not that I’ve been fired from my previous two holiday jobs, you see this eclectic mix of vocational pastimes was all part of the plan. A change is as good as a rest and all that.

I mentioned last time that I’d been filling my days shredding in a friend’s stud farm office, like a demented ancestor of Edward Scissorhands. But having run out of ruined paperwork to tear to shreds by Friday, I assumed my second role of the holiday, as a bookmaker’s assistant at the races at Punchestown this weekend.

I hadn’t exactly picked the warmest day of the year to make my betting deputy debut, but at least the rain stayed away, and wearing every item of my entire wardrobe, I just about staved off pneumonia.

It actually wasn’t a million miles away from my job on the ship as a croupier, taking bets, smiling at the punters, offering a bit of cheeky banter and praying that people lost. Despite the icicles forming in my bloodstream, it was actually a fun day and thankfully I wasn’t a bad luck doll, as my bookmaker boss turned a profit on the day, despite lots of winning favourites.

Place Your Bets Please!

The very next day, I switched hats once again, this time wearing my bloodstock assistant bobble hat. All vacation I’ve progressively been regressing closer to livestock, and Sunday and today, I’ve been getting up close and personal with horses of all shapes and sizes. That’s because this week is the Foal, and then the mare sales, at Goffs in Ireland.

When I was training horses myself, I used to buy most of my stock based on their previous racing form, so judging teeny tiny foals and trying to assess the likelihood of them winning races in two years time has been an uphill struggle.

The oldest ones are 11 months old and the youngest are only 6 months old, so there’s a wide variety of physical specimens on show, and some of the smallest are fairly adorable looking.

Still, defacing the catalogue aside, I’ve been trying to remain professional and it’s been an interesting week so far and hopefully later in the week my new boss will be buying some of the models that we’ve been critiquing.

Well that’s about it for today’s update, I’ll see what mischief that I can get up to, to entertain in my next blog, but it’s goodbye for now.

Back To Earth With A Bump!

Sunday 12th November 2017

Ouch! Upon touching down in Dublin Airport a few days ago, I had a sharp shock. It was bloody freezing! Had I taken the wrong plane leaving Palma? Was this Antarctica? When did it get so cold?

I soon realised that this lowly temperature was actually “normal” for the time of year, and quickly calculated that I hadn’t experienced winter since 2014. Although I’ve been known to complain on occasions when sailing around the tropics that it’s too hot, I certainly hadn’t missed winter. Next stop the nearest department store to buy a big jacket, woolly hat and some thermal undies…

It seems like I’ve been off the ship a month already, although in reality is only been a matter of days. It didn’t take me long to get homesick though and miss everything bar the boat drills. Thankfully I’ve been staying with my good friend Sally Ann, so she arranged a little trip out on a friend’s craft to make me feel more at home.

2 days out and I’m already back in a life jacket!

It might look like I’m wearing all of my entire wardrobe at once, but I can tell you that I was still bloody freezing. The Lough Derg in November is not a warm place and after bombing along it at full speed I now have wind burn on one side of my cheek that actually makes it look like someone punched me in the face!

M/S Marella Inflatable

When not skiving off larking around on dinghies, I’ve actually been working quite hard in my new rule as temporary “office assistant”. In reality I’m far more like an inept work experience girl and my starring role has been at the shredder, destroying documents that I’ve incorrectly typed. It’s actually the second shredder already as the first one I accidently destroyed with the sheer volume of mistyped sheets of paper. Woops!

Despite my incompetence, I’m really enjoying my new role and am learning lots of things. After 36 years of dodging it, I’ve finally learnt to make a cup of tea. And I haven’t managed to break the photocopier. Yet… Lots of positive things to add to my CV.

In between times I’ve still been hard at work Toy Tycooning. The Hippomottie Toys are still undergoing their rigorous testing. There’s been daily correspondence about the amount of Newton’s that the zip tag can handle and I spent Friday night reading a 16 page document on the presence of Nickel in metals and the definitions of prolonged contact with skin. Rock ‘n’ roll sista! The good thing is these toys will be virtually indestructible by the time our third party testers are finished with them.

The second Hippomottie book is already on the shelves and the Hippomottie Christmas Story is written and awaiting illustration. Honestly I think it’s the best one yet!! But I’ll yet you good critics be the judge of that nearer the time…

Talking of Christmas, I was lucky enough to actually enjoy Christmas Day for real the other day, as Sally Ann and her family kindly invited me to their “Fake Christmas”. Held on the 10th of November.

The date was selected because all the family were going to be away on real Christmas. It was great fun getting ready the few days before and by the time the turkey and ham were in the oven, it actually seemed like Christmas for real.

Ready for the feast!

The food was beyond delicious. I believe the official description was “Off The Charts!”. I think my favorite but about Christmas was “fake Boxing Day” where I got to spend the day hanging out on the sofa watching all the sport, and the racing which was hosted by non the less than my awesome host Sally Ann. How great to be sitting at home doing nothing whilst she was out in the cold doing all the hard work!

My celebrity friend!

So today it’s another easy day, blogging and dog walking in the sunshine to burn off all those calories, before getting back behind my desk tomorrow. Until next time peeps!

It’s Nearly Holiday Time! 

Saturday 28th October 2017

Well my vacation time is coming up soon, which is fantastic because I’m running on fumes right now. A nice, long, relaxing break it exactly what I need. Somewhat questionably though I’ve decided to take some “work” during my vacation time, which starts the day after I land back in terra firma. I believe the expression is that there’s no peace for the wicked, which would definitely appear to be quite apt.

I’ll be fitting my new “job” around my existing part time role of Toy Tycoon, and even though I might be seriously doubting the wisdom of waving goodbye to my peaceful time off in exchange for hard labour, I’m trying hard to think of the positives; namely being less bored during my holiday and also hopefully being slightly less poor also, as I’ll be earning money instead of spending it. Well that’s Plan A anyway.

I just hope my future “employer” didn’t read my the recent blogs detailing my lack of people skills and compulsive sarcasm/sharp wit…

In preparation for sign off, I’d arranged to sell my wonderful white €99 bicycle (from Carrefour #bargain) to one of the Nepalese security guards. As they say, the course of bicycle selling never does run smoothly, and true to form Jenny’s return from vacation was delayed this week and instead of arriving back at the ship on Thursday, to take possession of my beautiful two-wheeled charger in exchange for a crisp €50 note, her flights have been changed and she’s now scheduled to arrive in 10 days time in Funchal, Madeira, when I will have already departed.

This means that I’ve got to leave my bike in the cabin for the new occupants to get acquainted with, and hope that they won’t mind too much, and hope and pray that Jenny still does want the bike when she finally gets back.

Otherwise my options are a toss up between donating it to the crew welfare for all crew members to access (generous & useful), or asking my super wonderful boss Shane to lock the bike up to a palm tree in Barbados once they cross the Atlantic, and tell me where he’s hidden the key, so that I can collect it when my new ship arrives a few days later (genius & risky). Remember folks there’s always a Plan B in life, and even Plans C, D, E & F if needed…

In other news the eagerly awaited second Hippomottie Book is now out AND is FREE to download on IPad, Kindle, Smart Phone, Tablet, Device, etc. THIS WEEKEND!

So if you want to take a flick through the critically acclaimed Hippomottie Learns To Get Dressed (Hippomottie Adventures Book 2), click HERE for the UK version or HERE for the USA version.

Just Click the BUY FOR FREE but on Amazon or Kindle to download.

Of course you can always just Goggle “Hippomottie” on Amazon and there are some fantastic paperback versions for sale on there too. *Don’t forget Christmas is just around the corner and they make wonderful and practically unique gifts!!!

This one is actually quite good if I do say so myself. It even rhymes. Well mostly. Ok it’s supposed to and fails in parts, but I’ll let you good people be the judge of that and afterwards you can all leave me a lovely 5 star review ☆☆☆☆☆ even if you hate it, because you’re all good and lovely people.

Right I’ve got to go, I’ve got 6 months worth of clothes to wrestle into a suitcase that must weigh under 20kgs. Thanks Ryanair!