Hotel Breakfast Madness

The hotel breakfast experience can be an uncomfortable, tense affair – especially if you’re in a foreign country. Does this story ring true with you?

The hotel buffet breakfast

Bleary eyed, wearing your shirt back to front, and with your hair looking like you were assaulted by a troop of wig-stealing monkeys on your way in, you fumble your way through the door of the hotel’s breakfast room. It’s a buffet breakfast; all you can bloat. You chuckle to yourself as you imagine the fat American man you bumped into yesterday (the one with the enormous boobs) jumping up and down with joy at the potential calories on offer. Let’s hope he’s wearing his sports bra…

As the Maitre d’ greets you by the door, it becomes obvious that he speaks no English. So, you try to hint that you want a table for one without inadvertently giving him ‘the bird.’

Following a period of mis-communication, during which you seriously considered punching the Maitre d’ in the face, as he stood between your hungry stomach and the eggs and bacon, he sits you down at a table of his choice. Frustratingly, he’s chosen the table furthest away from the buffet, meaning that you have to undertake a small marathon to reach the food. The realisation passes through your mind that you will probably burn off more calories getting to and from the buffet area than are actually contained within the food. Oh, why can’t they supply golf carts?

The waiter walks over. He, at least, speaks a little more English…

Waiter: “Tea? Coffeeeee?”
You: “What… err, tea… yes, I’ll have tea. Thank you”

Then comes the list…

Waiter: “What tea you like? Engresh breekfast, caamomile, greeen tea, mint tea, eeerl grey…?”
You: “Err, I don’t know. Tea. Just tea. I don’t want help sleeping, I don’t have prostate issues… ordinary tea!”
Waiter: “Ah, ok………… juice, what juice you like?”

Finally, the waiter leaves… he’s gone to get your strawberry tea and asparagus and wheatgrass juice (you won’t have a problem with constipation today, that’s for sure!). As you sit at your table, staring blankly into the distance, your eyes focus for a brief second on a woman struggling back to her table, supporting an enormous mound of breakfast goodies with both arms. Her head is tilted to the side of her plate to see where she is going. Forget the golf carts, how about a forklift truck?

Now slumped over your table, struggling to wake yourself, you glance at your watch. It’s 10.29am. Breakfast finishes at 10.30am, so there’s little time to loose. You’re going to have to act like a contestant on the television gameshow, Supermarket Sweep – without the bright, very gay clothing and without the over-exaggerated enthusiasm. It’s too early for that. You jump up from your table, like a startled deer. Well, ok, more like a wounded wildebeest…

As you reach the food area, panting from your exhaustive journey, you notice several groups of people wandering around with their heads down and arms out, reminiscent of extras from an episode of the Walking Dead. It’s the hangover crowd. You decide it’s best to stay away from them incase they walk into you or, worse, projectile vomit over your shoulder as you inspect the pastries and cakes.

It’s time to make your first big decision: how to begin the breakfast debauchery? Being that it’s the morning, you really don’t want to have a guilt trip for the rest of the day about what you’ve eaten at breakfast. So, the best option is to start with something healthy; fruit. You pick up a piece of melon with your spoon and carefully place it on your plate… that’ll do. It’s amazing how this one piece of fruit, measuring approximately a square centimetre, can change your perspective and make you feel so much better about the mound of unhealthy eggs, bacon, sausages, toast, pastries and cakes that will inevitably follow. Afterall, your breakfast won’t have been *all* unhealthy, right?

And, let’s be honest, you are “health conscious.” Yesterday, you walked all the way up the hotel stairs to your room on the ninth floor… having taken the lift to the eighth floor first.

After devouring your fruit in three seconds, it’s time to move on to the cooked breakfast. Eggs, bacon, sausages, tomatoes and a mountain of toast. That brings us to one of the trickiest parts of the buffet breakfast…

The hotel breakfast toaster

Arriving at the toaster section, you’re confronted by a crowd of people with very perplexed faces, clutching pieces of bread. And they have every right to feel perplexed, for hotel toasters are always so incredibly over-complicated, with their vast array of buttons, dials and knobs (where-ever there’s a toaster, there’s always knobs). Moreover, the toasters always resemble torture devices with their mish-mash of metal spokes, prongs and cages. And why is there always one piece of ‘forgotten toast’ sitting on the exit tray; cold, getting in the way, but still optimistic of achieving fulfilment underneath a blanket of warm honey. It’s always perfectly toasted too – a miracle, in toasting terms. You can guarantee that your toast won’t turn out looking that good. ‘Hmm, you could just… no, it’s cold. Urgh.’

Having fought through the crowd, claiming to be the biggest toaster expert in the world, the torture device is finally revealed to you. Now, there’s an inevitability that the toaster will be one of two things:

  1. A time machine. Your bread will disappear for twenty minutes, only to re-appear looking exactly the same as it went in.
  2. A cremation furnace. You pop your bread in and, 10 seconds later, a pile of ash falls out onto the tray (the ash may or may not resemble the face of someone famous from history… possibly someone who was cremated)

Arriving back at your table with your mound of food, the waiter kindly presents you with a teapot of strawberry tea and a glass of asparagus and wheatgrass juice. Now, getting the tea from the little teapot into your cup should be easy. But, no, he’s given you the one teapot in the world with the dodgy lid and leaky spout. Consequently, when you go to pour it, the tea goes everywhere… everywhere except the cup, which remains as dry as an Arab’s flip flop. Seeing you in some distress, but clearly not understanding the gravitas of the situation, the waiter brings you a napkin. A single bloody napkin!

Although frustrated, part of you remains grateful that you’re not on board a boat with him. For, if it was to start taking on water he’d probably hand you a thimble to bail with…

At exactly 10.30am, events suddenly liven up. The lights in the buffet area are switched off, one by one. Breakfast is over… but the fight has only just begun. A mad scramble ensues, reminiscent of feeding time at the zoo. It’s a battle of wits between staff (starting to take things away) and people trying to desperately grab extra food for their breakfast. Everywhere you look, there’s chaos. Well, I say ‘everywhere’ – the fruit section remains incredibly peaceful.

You finish your breakfast and leave the restaurant. It’s all over. Behind you is a scene of carnage; bits of half-eaten food everywhere and tea-soaked table cloths as far as the eye can see. Although you arrived late, you feel contented that you aren’t the last to leave. That prize goes to a plump, married couple. There’s something not quite right though… the man has a strange muffin-shaped mound in his t-shirt and his wife is dragging a heavy handbag along the floor behind her. Forget the forklift truck – how about an articulated lorry?

Give Me Some Stick – Pointless Letter #2

Email Letter

I visited London today to meet up with a friend of mine, Marcus Oakey (Marcus – you owe me a tea for the shameless plug!).

On the train journey home, I was checking my work emails and, as usual, sifting my way through the spam that had somehow fooled my spam filter (possibly with some kind of cloaking device or tomfoolery) and made it to my Inbox. For some reason, one particular email tickled my funny bone and I felt obliged to respond in the most stupid way I could think of. Here is the email, together with the message that I sent back in response…

Spam email (from ‘Wooden sticks for ice cream’):

Wooden sticks for ice cream, medical sticks and sticks for coffee.. (Birch, alder) Origin- Ukraine
94x10x2, 114x10x2, 150x16x2

My response:

Dear Mr Wooden Sticks For Ice Cream,

Thank you for your email informing me that you sell wooden sticks for ice cream, coffee and medicinal purposes (presumably for jabbing into people’s mouths, ears and up people’s bottoms – although, one hopes, not at the same time). I’m delighted to tell you that your email couldn’t be better timed. I have an urgent requirement for a wooden stick for soup – do you do those? Do you? I hope you do. Do tell me you do do do do do those?

No, seriously, do you?

Before you respond, please allow me to explain a little more about my enquiry. I am, very shortly, due to undertake a world record attempt for charity that involves swimming in a gigantic bowl of soup and I will be needing a robust, unyielding stick to stir said (tomato and basil) soup. The stick will need to be approximately 20 feet long and strong enough to take my weight as I lower myself in (I will be dressed as a crouton for added flamboyance).

The aim of my world record attempt is to raise money and awareness for the WWF (it’s an animal charity, I believe… I can’t say I’ve ever heard of it… I’m only really doing the challenge because I love soup). With that in mind, I am therefore wondering whether it would be possible for you to make the stick fatter at one end and sculpt the end of it for me? I know what you’re thinking – this could all too easily end up becoming a spoon – but ‘stick’ with me on this! Anyway, I was thinking about making the end of the stick resemble the shape of an extinct animal – a Dodo, Tyrannosaurus Rex or Goldfish would be perfect! Is it possible to construct, carve and fudge together such an amazing masterpiece?

Moving on to available budget, I have worked hard to put together as much money as I can for this spoon stick. I’ve emptied every savings account (including those of my elderly neighbours), sold my mother-in-law and scavenged the backs of every sofa in every Costa coffee shop south of Birmingham. I hope you’ll therefore appreciate it when I tell you that I have raised… and I think this deserves a drum roll… £1.42. Yes, THAT MUCH!! 🙂

Please give time to think over my proposal. I look forward to hearing your response, oh kind and honourable stick man.

Bruce Picklebottom

Rolled Or Folded?

Present - Wrapped

I stared blankly at the shopkeeper, with a confused smile; I was experiencing a moment of sheer perplexity. My conversation at the till in a local card and gift wrap shop had been very interesting and going well until it came to a sudden and abrupt halt. I was asked a question to which I was struggling to find an answer. The question was this…

“would you like your wrapping paper rolled or folded?”

I’m sorry, what? Can you not start me off with something a bit easier, like… ‘what causes gravity?’ or ‘if a one-legged hen laid an egg and a half in a day and a half, how long would it take a monkey with a wooden leg to eat a packet of Maltesers?’

I felt unprepared for such a demonic attack on my grey matter. When you’re on a quiz show, such as ‘Who Wants To Be a Millionaire’, they at least start you off with a simple question, such as “how do you spell ‘moron’?”, before moving on to questions of higher complexity.

After a long pause of bewilderment, and with a fleeting evil grin, I turned the question back onto her: “well, I really don’t know. What would you recommend?” I could see her brain short circuit as she stood there with a blank, confused look. It appeared that no-one had ever turned the question back onto her. After a spell of silence, she replied, “do you know what, I never can decide that myself!” Suddenly, I felt less alone in the world… 🙂

So, what should one answer? Well, let’s look at the options available in the world of gift-wrap carriage (that’s ‘carriage’ and not ‘carnage’). I could choose to have the wrapping paper rolled. I could then carry it home, wielding it like a weapon, tripping people over as I walk by and hitting old ladies over the head. I have discovered on previous occasions that there’s something special about carrying it like a baton that gives one an incredible sense of power. I suddenly transform into a superhero; ready for a bank robber to run out of the local Natwest so that I can bludgeon him to death with my flowery, pink wrapping paper roll. “I can take anyone on… oh, shit, it’s started to rain…”

The alternative option is for the shopkeeper to fold the wrapping paper. That’s much more sensible, allowing me to easily fit it into my bag. However, when I go to wrap the gift, it’s going to end up with great big folds in it. Still, if I have it rolled then it’ll end up battered anyway. So, maybe it’s the best of a bad bunch.

Do you know what? The real reason I can’t ever come with an answer to the question “would you like your wrapping paper rolled or folded?” is because I don’t care. That’s right, I don’t give a shit whether they fold the paper, roll it or make it into a giant paper hat so that I can wear it home. I mean, sod it, come up with something creative: “Would you like your wrapping paper rolled, folded or crafted into an origami swan? If you like, I can set fire to it or blu-tack it to the neighbour’s cat.”

Creativity is what is required here. Now, where did that pesky moggy go… 😉

A Towel Too Far…

Rapport can be described as a state of harmony achieved when the people involved appreciate and understand each other’s feelings and ideas and communicate on the same wavelength. Here is a story of how I established rapport with a room maid during my stay in Cancun. I was feeling a little cut off and lonely at the time, so it meant a lot to me.

During my two-week hotel stay, I occupied a twin room all to myself. This meant that I received two of everything, or in the case of bath towels, four of everything. It seemed a little extreme.

My first few evenings in Cancun were spent outside of the hotel. However, on my fifth night at the hotel, I was enjoying a rest before dinner when there was a knock at the door. I opened the door to a maid, who presented me with a towel before wishing me a good evening (in Spanish). “This is ridiculous,” I thought, “what the bloody hell do I need ANOTHER towel for?” Despite this, deep down inside me I felt a tingling sense of increased security: if I should need to have 10 showers a day, I could! Furthermore, if I ran out of money, I could start my own laundry shop… 😉

Opportunities can appear when you least expect them to. As I stood there, towel in hand, a childish idea came into my head – ‘towel origami.’ I could have some fun with this towel and put it to good use. So, this is what I made…

Enrique - Towel Origami

Say “hello” to my towel man, Enrique; made from one bath towel and one hand towel (together with a few bits and pieces from the complimentary bathroom pack). I left Enrique sitting at the top of the second bed; to greet the maid the next day. Next morning, I went out for the day, returning in the evening. As I walked back into the room I spotted that Enrique had disappeared… to be replaced by Mariana (complete with flirty eyes)…

Mariana - Towel Origami

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Teenage Love… In The Middle Of Costa!

Teenage Couple

Today, I have decided to work from Costa; as a break from being at home. I’ve got my coffee, I’ve got my sandwich and I’ve got my berry muffin. Unfortunately for me, I’ve also “got” a teenage couple sitting on the table next to me. These two teenagers have clearly just discovered the delights of kissing (they’re sitting there sucking each other’s faces off). Now, anyone normal would find a corner somewhere to engage in this private and newly-exciting activity. But, no, they’re literally sitting right in the middle of Costa.

I could move all my stuff (laptop, jacket, bag, coffee, sandwich) onto another table nearby. But, instead, I’m going to sit here, moan lots and think up some mischievous ideas for what to do next. I could:

  1. Tell them to get a room at a hotel (one that allows children!)
  2. Tut loudly
  3. Do nothing (and plug my earphones in)… far too sensible, that one!
  4. Hit them. Lots.
  5. Start singing. Perhaps a song such as “it started with a kiss…” by Hot Chocolate. I wonder, is there a song called “f*** off and do that somewhere else before I strangle you with my scarf and bury you both in a plant pot!!”
  6. Find the nearest supermarket, buy a can of beans, scoff the lot and… well, you can probably guess the rest…
  7. Take photographs, threaten to tell their parents and then blackmail them for everything they’ve got (£2.43 in pocket money and half a packet of Chewits)

They clearly think they’re invisible to everyone and that everyone in Costa is hard-of-hearing. I am, at this very moment, wondering whether such a public display of teenage passion is a decent motive for murder.

Maybe I’m just jealous. Do you think I’m jealous? When I was a teenager, I was just happy for a girl to notice me (usually followed by a face of disgust or a comment of “why are you standing outside the girls’ changing rooms?”). I’m not bitter… 😉

Oh crap. I’ve just noticed. I’m looking around at the other tables in here and EVERYONE is a teenager. I’ve accidentally walked into the local puberty asylum. There’s only one thing for it, I’m going to have to put on some tracksuit bottoms, spray myself with 13 cans of Lynx deodorant and don a baseball cap.

You know what, I’m going to be a bit nicer to this couple. I mean, we were all young once. I haven’t eaten my muffin yet, so I could give them that… in small pieces… projected with velocity at their faces!! No, you know what, I’ll go and buy them a present… do they sell Chlamydia Test gift tokens in Boots? 😉