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Saturday, 25 May 2013

Thoughts about hotels

Whilst staying at an hotel last week I jotted down some random thoughts that flashed through my mind concerning what makes a good hotel, and the small things that make a difference.

None of this is a criticism of the hotel where we stayed, it was lovely, not part of a chain, the staff were overwhelmingly helpful, pleasant and gave excellent service, although perhaps the soundproofing between the bedrooms could have been a little better! Just how much does the sound of a plug being inserted into the socket make?

My long term gripe is about most hotels is the poor lighting so it is difficult to read in bed or sat in the one armchair that is provided. Oh, why just one chair in a double room? Is the other occupant not allowed to sit in comfort or is one meant to use the multitude of pillows to sit up on the bed?

Another gripe. Where to put sponge bags? No shelves or surfaces in bathrooms to take a sponge bag, hair brushes, bottles, no, not wine bottles, just shampoo, conditioner or shower gel - we are not wine and candles bath people - in most hotels there would be nowhere to put a candle or wine glass if one so desired such decadence. Who would want wine at 8a.m whilst showering in a rush to get downstairs before the breakfast deadline?

There is frequently a notice asking if we could use our towels more than once, fine, and we do so, but please ensure there is enough space for a good sized towel rail  - heated in chilly weather - so the towels will dry before we need them to dry us.

Continuing with the bathroom, please hotel proprietors don't buy the cheapest loo paper, we just use so much more of it doubled and trebled, and talking of paper, would it be too much to ask for a packet of tissues in the room? Far more important than the cellophaned packets of crumbly biscuits. Which leads me on to tea and coffee making equipment. If one can manage to fill the kettle with water from the bathroom taps is the cold water also drinking water? Without a notice to the contrary one must assume so or boil the water so all the oxygen has gone and teabag tea tastes even more ghastly. The good hotel last week gave us bottle of water with kilner type lid (and glasses) so we could have made hot drinks had we wished.

To end on a lighter note about my worst hotel experience. It was in Blackpool in 1996, I was there for a Conference of the Cataloguing and Indexing Group of the Library Association (as it was called in those far off days) and for the launch of the 21st edition of the Dewey Decimal Classification schedules. After breakfast I returned to my single room of the hotel to find two or three pigeons flying in the room, one of my  worst fears so I panicked, rushed out into the corridor where fortunately cleaners were approaching so  they dealt with the birds. After I wondered why pigeons and not seagulls as the hotel is on the sea front.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Tribute to my cousin.

In my last blog I mentioned the death of my American cousin, Pauline, what I couldn't tell you at the time was another paternal cousin died six days later. Keith's death was far more of a shock, he was only 75, but young for his age, had been in good health and it was a cut on his hand that lead to blood poisoning and his death.

Even now, over two weeks after a phone call from his wife asking us to include Keith in our prayers, we cannot believe what has happened. Keith has been there always, for us as family and for humanity for he saw good in everyone. At his Quaker funeral we were reminded or learnt of all he did as mourners were moved to speak. He and Diana moved from Surrey to North Wales when he took very early retirement, they had been very involved with Kingston Quakers this transferred to Bangor Meeting, amongst many other roles he was the Quaker representative for University chaplaincy; Churches Together; United Nations; a founder member of Bangor U3A; he had been a prison visitor and had prisoners to stay in his home; he ran the London marathon some 20 years ago for Intermediate Technology; he was a practical guy who kept the Meeting House (and its boiler) in good repair as well as his own home and that of others; he had two children and was grandfather to two boys. The younger 14 year old spoke at Meeting about Keith talking to him about Shakespeare, who he believed was from North Wales not Stratford. This resonated with me, I too was taken to the house where it was believed the writer lived.

Keith was very much aware of the wider Bailey family, his mother was my father's sister and he knew many of the extended family as he, his mother and our grandmother had been evacuated from Richmond to East Anglia to stay with our grandmother's family. I remember him helping my parents move house, there was a memorable journey in his Morris Minor van when he gave my parents, my sister and me a lift from Twickenham to Paddington Station for our first holiday at Dunster Beach. I think my father, sister and I sat on cushions in the back of the van, it did seem we travelled rather fast.

There are many other things I could add to record an event that many can still not believe.

Monday, 6 May 2013


During my last ramblings I mentioned a forthcoming eye test, so to keep my readers up to date I have two new pairs of glasses, one for sunshine and one for most of the time. Of my previous specs, there were two problems with the rimless pair, the lens had become tilted, no wonder I thought my eyes had changed; the other thing there was a tiny crack where the arm is joined to the lens. Apparently the lens could have shattered at any time! So whilst awaiting my new frames I resorted to the heavier framed glasses and found my vision much improved whilst I consider I looked like the librarian that I was! 

New specs are a compromise, rimless at the lower edges of the lens with the frame extending from the arm to the nose clips. The sunglasses have heavier frames, in fact I need to go back and have them loosened for the arm is tight on my skull.  I should be used to these problems, I have worn specs since about the age of eight but rimless styles are a relatively recent choice for me since technology has made compatible  with a thicker lens.

This week I went off to London for lunch with librarians all of whom have worked at Ministry of Defence libraries, as I was a little early I sat in Whitehall Gardens. I was struck how much the area had changed, the gardens were much more colourful, not just municipal bushes but colourful displays.

Hungerford Bridge for pedestrians too has been rebuilt, it was on the eastern side of the railway bridge, very narrow, dingy, the new bridge is a great improvement. The views always made up for the shortcomings of the bridge, I used to think the Shell-Mex building looked like a giant 1930s fireplace with a clock on the mantlepiece.

Last Tuesday was one of those days when all felt right with the world, a feeling that didn't extend to the following day when I heard my American cousin, Pauline, had died.

Pauline was 89, had been ill for a while but she was part of my life and of the Bailey tribe, her mother was my father's older sister, at just 20 in 1944 she married George, an American she met at the Lyceum ballroom in the Strand. They were married for 65 years. The annual letter my parents sent each year with their Christmas card is a tradition we have continued, hers was usually the first Christmas card to arrive with her letter "the hardy annual" she called it. Gradually as air travel improved, she and George visited regularly to stay with her brother so we knew her well. She leaves a son and two grandchildren.

Just realised how late it is, so another day, another blog. may follow.