I take great pleasure in helping out people looking for directions or guidance, in so far as I am able.  Here in London, exasperated tourists will approach me with varying  degrees of English competency on the regular, looking for assistance in locating their destination; I am always delighted to point them in the right direction, when I can, drawing maps on a notepad or even walking them partway if I have nowhere important to be.  Even though this is not my home country, this is just good hospitality, and I like to do my best to send folk on their way with a positive impression, just as I rely on fellow Londoners to help me out when I’m in an unfamiliar part of town.  I am a big believer in asking for, and offering, directions.

So this is, as I said, just good hospitality, and ultimately good karma.  It’s not a big city, but it is a busy and twisting one, and we all need a little help from time to time.  I was recently thinking, however, about the people I call Travel Angels.  These are the people you meet in the course of your journey who go far out of their way to assist you, and leave you with a warm feeling in the pit of your belly, the people who replenish your basic faith in humanity, however grand or small the gesture.  These gestures are always poignant, but especially so in a foreign setting when you are wary of your vulnerability.

This is more than essential kindness, and more than giving directions.  These acts require the Angel to take time away from themselves to see you safely to your destination, or extend their welcome to the point of invitation into their own lives.  It’s the person who sees you on your own in an unfamiliar place and invites you to a Lebanese family supper, or offers to drive you 30 miles out of their way (both experiences from my own life).  With that thought, I wanted to detail four instances of Travel Angels and invite you to share your own.

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Howdy People!

Forgive my absence, I have been traveling.  Specifically, I tortured myself for 10 hours in coach this week (never again!) to cross the seas and visit with my dear friend, Tailfeather.  Say hi, Feather..(Hi!)…she says hello.  We have a fantastic week planned, wherein we are doing a little tour of Europe, with culturally fulfilling stops in Belgium and The Netherlands as well as London.  The Netherlands I have been to before, but not Belgium.  London I haven’t been back to since I was a child, so it’s been fun hanging out here the last couple of days.

Earlier tonight, we went to the store to get some essentials (wine, very essential.  also chocolate.) and I found myself wandering the aisles in an nostalgic daze as I saw all the food stuffs of my youth.

The Bigga peas and Devonshire custard my mother used to have in the pantry when we lived in Ireland, the Pear soap and Fairy liquid my Nanna kept by the sink, the jars of Marmite and Bovril and bottles of Lucozade my Grandfather favored.  And don’t even get me started on the sweets!  Quality Street!  Crunchies!  MALTEASERS!!   (Contented sigh).  Ahh, memories, like the corners of my mind.  Tell me, what products remind you of your childhood?

 

*Oh, the food item above is NOT one of the fond childhood memories, it was just too bizarrely offensive not to share.

 

messy_suitcase_blogThis Friday, I am going on a trip to Turkey for a week.  I am looking forward to Turkish baths, the market, some culture and history, and most of all, some sun.  The Boy Person and I booked an all-inclusive resort for what I can say was a seductive price, and we are primed and ready for a week off of work and some serious B&B time (Booze & Beaches). 

The only fly in the sunscreen, which is not really a snag but sort of an inconvenience, is my little “anxiety attack.”  In more clinical terms, I mean my “spells,” those wee dashes of the vapors I get when it comes to packing.  While I am somewhat prone to spells in general, and have a glass pill bottle of modern remedy in urgent hand, I don’t understand exactly why the act of packing for a trip – any trip – sends me into a swoon. 

I understand that when other people have a weekend away (I’ve witnessed this), they gaily toss two pairs of socks, a toothbrush, some fresh undies, and a travel guide into their bag, and declare themselves ready for action (I have found this sort is typically male, and they will readily borrow your deodorant and clean tee-shirt when they have none, which your nostrils usually regard as worth the sacrifice).  There are also people, like my friend Kadinsky, who have packing down to an art form, and are miraculously prepared for any situation – be it dinner at the Ritz or mountain rescue – by the virtue of one smartly-packed bag,

I think of these two types as the Nonchalant (the former), and the Superhero (the latter), and however much I might wish to emulate either, it is a psychological impossibility for me.  I have read articles on packing; I make pre-trip lists that document exactly how many band-aids I will need for my blisters and AA batteries I will need for my camera; I attempt to pack a week in advance, for a trial run:  And yet, none of this helps.  (more…)

It’s been 3 years since the mister and I have been on vacation, 3 loooooooong years.  We’ve taken the odd mini break for a couple of days and have each taken individual weekends to go and hang with our respective friends, but we haven’t gone on a proper vacation together in too long.  So!  On Sunday we are leaving for an all inclusive week at the beach where we plan to laze about, sex a lot and have things fetched for us.  HEAVEN.

However, I can’t help but notice that I am anything but calm and relaxed in the days leading up to my calm and relaxing vacation.  Why?  Join me after the jump for my ridiculous “prep list” (more…)