Bank Holiday weekend, and usually I’m at home, tapping away at my laptop or, if I really mean business, upstairs in my little office (the boxroom which is so jam-packed with a desk, chair, and three bookcases that I can barely move), frowning at my desktop computer, and wondering why I find it so easy to write a Facebook post but so blooming difficult to write a new paragraph for my WIP.
This weekend, however, was different. I had booked a coach trip for me and my mum, and we headed off to Staffordshire and Shropshire. It was my first ever coach trip and my first ever stay in a hotel, which, at my age, is quite an embarrassing admission. My mother has been on loads of these trips, and has stayed in many hotels, so she was quite confident. Boy, was she ever.
This blog post was going to be about the weekend trip – about our adventures and misadventures, our laughs and our annoyances. But it’s not, for two reasons. One, so many things happened that, as I was coming home, staring out of the coach window and planning the blog post, while my mother gently snored beside me (amazing really, since she later insisted she wasn’t asleep), it occurred to me that this would actually make a great story, and within ten minutes I had two main characters and a plot line sorted, as well as a string of minor characters and funny incidents. So that will be written up and, when I see how long it ends up, I’ll decide what to do with it.
The second thing was that a lovely man suffered a devastating loss this weekend. I had a very intermittent internet signal while I was away, but when I managed to get onto Facebook, I discovered that a friend of mine had tragically – and very suddenly – lost his wife. Now, I have never met this man in real life, and I never knew his wife, but I feel as if I know them both. He has made me laugh and smile so many times on Facebook, and I’ve read his posts as he’s chuntered away about having to do this and that to make “the wife” happy, understanding quite clearly that he obviously adored her. So I never knew them personally, but Facebook opens a door to people we never meet in the real world, and lets us share the ups and downs of their lives. The shock and the loss hit me as if they were my neighbours. As if I bumped into them regularly at the supermarket, or chatted to them over the garden fence. It hurt me to think that this man was hurting. I felt his grief. I felt sad for his family, and for the fact that his wife won’t see her grandchildren grow up. And it made me realise that this could happen to any one of us, at any time. You simply don’t know when will be the last time you speak to someone. I felt a desperate need to see my husband and have a cuddle.
So, instead, this post is simply about the things I learned this weekend.
Coach interiors don’t always look like the photographs on the website or in the brochure.
Many people have no manners at all – even towards pensioners.
You are never too old to be thoroughly embarrassed by your mother.
Chocolate limes are compulsory on coaches.
People on coach trips who are perfect strangers feel an irresistible urge to share the most intimate details of their lives with each other.
When travelling with a pensioner, never ever be too far from a toilet.
Some cafes are a complete rip-off.
When visiting a market you will buy the most ridiculous tat that you have no need of and will never look at again.
On coach trips you basically do nothing but eat.
Hotel waitresses work damn hard and many people don’t even have the manners to thank them.
Wherever you go, you can guarantee there will be a Card Factory, a Wilkinson’s, a TopShop and a W H Smith.
Motorway service station sandwiches are more expensive than a three course meal in some restaurants.
Burger bars, sandwich shops, furniture outlets and computer stores have taken over the world.
To escape from some shopping centres you need a satellite navigation system, a torch, a map, a compass, and the help of an underground resistance movement.
Some public toilets should be condemned.
As city centres go, Kingston upon Hull’s is pretty damn good.
I really do love my mum.
A weekend away from the husband wasn’t anywhere near as much fun as it sounded. I missed him!
Most importantly, I learned that our loved ones are precious, and you never know when it will be the last time you see them. So make the most of them, tell them you love them, and be grateful for every precious second you have with them.
Even if they do tell random strangers things about you that you wouldn’t tell your best friend.
Have a great week xxx