Sunday, March 4, 2012


No pictures for you today, just a bit of a grump. Pat, my wife, says I am already a grumpy old man, but sometimes it just gets on my sharp and pointy bits.

Danielle, our friend just outside Paris, has invited us to go over to France in June and we quickly decided that this was an excellent idea. I haven't told Jasper yet as it means that he is going to be going on holiday to his favourite kennels. Still, even if I tell him, he won't really understand, that's just me being silly and anthropomorphic.

So, dates fixed, let's book the transport. Now, we have been collecting AIRMILES for years with our Tesco Shopping. If you are not in the UK when you read this (ha, that'll be the day) then the words TESCO and Airmiles probably mean nothing. For every pound we spend on our weekly shopping at Tesco the Supermarket, we get two airmiles (or so). Save them up for long enough and it gets pretty good. For instance, this time last year we went for a holiday in Florence, Italy, for my 60th Birthday. Two flights from Manchester to Florence, Italy and four nights in a 4 star hotel cost us NOTHING because it was paid for by our Airmiles.

However, nobody lets you do anything for nothing so last year British Airways (who owned and ran Airmiles), merged with IBERIA who had their own, similar system. The new company which has some fancy name like the Universal People Carrying Giant Airline Company (I made that up actually) decided to change the name of the scheme from Airmiles to AVIOS (which I think is a bit like calling a Marathon Bar - SNICKERS (It sounds good but means absolutely snit!). They also changed the rules so that you can no longer get air travel for nothing. You now have to pay a fixed amount for the Airport Taxes etc. This meant that for the two of us to fly from Manchester to Paris was going to cost us about £110.00. Still not bad.

However ..... you can still use your AVIOS to purchase tickets on Eurostar, and there is no Airport Duty at Railway Stations. So I find that I can get two tickets from London St Pancras International Rail Terminal to Paris Gare du Nord International, FIRST CLASS, for absolutely ZIP!!!!!. Not a bean, not a penny or even a Greek Euro Centime. We travelled on Eurostar First Class once before and it was really, really good. BUT, AVIOS don't work on Sunday Evening, so I won't actually be able to book this until tomorrow.

However ...... you'll notice that the Eurostar Train leaves from St Pancras in London, and we live in Manchester. Well, that's OK, we will book tickets on the railway to go down to London to connect. You cannot use AVIOS to purchase rail tickets in the UK. The Train companies will not sell rail tickets for journeys more than 12 weeks in the future (and the end of June is about 16 weeks away. If I do buy rail tickets as soon as they go on sale, I will have to pay the full standard fare which means it will cost us more than £200.00 just to get down to London. However, it seems that if you buy rail tickets six weeks before you travel you can get them cheaper, because you are buying them in ADVANCE. Hang on, am I stupid or what. It is currently about 16 weeks until we travel, but it won't be booking in Advance until six weeks before we travel. O. M. G.

Then I tried to find out if I can use my AVIOS to fly from Manchester to London, and I can and I think that, in total, it will cost just £54.00 to buy two return air plane tickets from Manchester to London (that's the Airport Taxes again). Now how ridiculous is it to end up flying to London in order to catch a train to Paris? But at this moment, it does rather look as if that is what we may end up doing, though I might ask Patricia to have a conversation with her friend Bernice who is very good on buying railway tickets.

Why cannot life be simple?

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Bore da!

I think that is Welsh for Good Day and since this is March 1st, St David's Day, it seems appropriate. I was really impressed with the Google Doodle for today, and it is nice to think that they can have a bit of fun too. Here it is.

I don't have a lot of time today as I am off for drinks at the Vicarage soon. Our new Vicar, James, wishes to meet with the members of the PCC. So we are going up to his house for a meeting. We were asked to prepare the answers to two questions, "What are the Mountaintops?" and "What are the Valleys?" which seem like quite reasonable questions, and I have pondered them. I'm not sure that my views on what is good and what is bad in our Parish will be shared by my colleagues, but I don't think that I was put on earth to be anyone's rubber stamp. By the way, yes, I do believe in a God who made me but I'm not too bothered if you don't agree with me. It is your life and we must all live our lives by our own beliefs.

Jasper the Spaniel went to have a hair cut this morning. I was quite intrigued the first time that I discovered that there is a "Spaniel Cut" known to all dog groomers. Splendid. So Jasper has come home with a little punk hairstyle and he look beautiful. But then he always looks beautiful, even when he is coated with a one inch thick layer of mud, which he often is.

It has been a gorgeous day. with a bright blue springtime sky and it has been warm. I sat in the Conservatory for a while this afternoon, with the window open for some fresh spring air. Patricia actually sat outside in the sunshine, reading her newspaper. It was really good. I remember the other year it was much later in March before it really became spring like, so I hope that this is a good sign and it is going to be a good year. I'll finish with this little picture. I got the big camera out today when I took Jasper for his walk, because I thought that there might have been something nice to photograph, but there was not. However, back at home, in the garden, I found this little beauty, and it seemed very appropriate, on St David's Day, to include a little picture that pretty much sums up today.

Da Spring is sprung!