Sun, sea and Vee-Jan Sarnies in beautiful Puerto Rico!

A stressful 2016 led me to feel it was time I got a bit of a break. Hubby’s not really a holiday person, in that it wouldn’t bother him if he never got a bit of sunshine, but I’m the opposite; and, despite being allergic to the aul rays, (factor 50 gets slathered over me daily), I convinced myself that only a week basking in the sun’s vitamin D would appease my craving for what had now become something akin to a substance-related disorder.

  In short, I needed my fix and if I was going to get it I’d have to make an executive decision and book that holiday. And so, that’s how, one rainy Roscommon afternoon, I found myself, umbrella dripping, mascara running, hair looking like the comb-over that straddles Donald Trump’s scalp, inside the offices of East West Travel waffling the ears off poor Martina and enquiring as what she had on offer by way of a bit of January winter sun.

  Now as someone who’s pretty computer literate, I didn’t need to pop into Martina – I could have gone online and booked it myself, especially as I knew where I wanted to go and stay; i.e. the Puerto Plata apartments in Puerto Rico, Gran Canaria. Now it’s not five-star accommodation, but the studio apartment we booked had a spectacular view of the harbour, was spotlessly clean, (I’m a neat freak, so this was important), in fact, the entire facilities were spic and span, the staff were very friendly and helpful and the clientele were of the more mature kind, as in no annoying hell-raising teenagers dive-bombing into the pool. Bliss! 

  You see for me folks, when booking a package holiday, I find using an experienced travel agent like East West Travel so much more reassuring, because they’re the licensed experts, governed by the Commission for Aviation Regulation bonds, and that aspect alone can offer a holidaymaker so much more security and peace of mind in the event that say, there’s a hitch with your accommodation, you get stranded, or an outgoing president refuses to hand over the helm and squat in the State House, a la Gambia’s defeated President Yahya Jammeh!

  And, even though it’s an ‘old school’ way of doing things, I personally prefer the extra bit of reassurance that booking with a trusted, face-to-face source gave me. Yep, everyone said I was “mad…sure booking online is cheaper; you get better deals,” but it’s my experience that this isn’t always the case because arranging different elements like flights, transfers and accommodation may not necessarily work out the way you planned and this is when you could end up getting well and truly snookered! 

  I will say I did arrange my own travel insurance because I find shopping around for cover can be cheaper, and in my case, it certainly was. 

  Now folks, while we had an absolute ball, while the weather was a sizzling 30 degrees most days, (lowest was 24 degrees), while we never saw a cloud in the sky, while we went on some wonderful trips and explored the island by bus, and while the entire experience was one I can’t wait to repeat, I’m probably the only person to ever come home from such a wonderful adventure without piling on the pounds.

  Why? I’m a vegan, and they just didn’t get it in Puerto Rico. In one restaurant in the beautiful resort of Meloneras, whose lunch menu listed ‘Vegan Baguette’, the waiter insisting I told him whether I wanted “The vee-jan meat in your vee-jan sandwich cooked medium or rare Senora?” Seriously? Oh yeah…in the land of steak, shellfish and cheese, I had to ask this baffled waiter if he or the chef knew what vegan meant? They hadn’t a breeze, and, studying me as if madness ran through me like a recessive gene, then, looking at hubby with unmitigated sympathy, very kindly offered to “cook it with the meat and remove it,” before it was served to me. Aaagh! And this folks is how I ended up living on tomatoes, onions, figs and orange juice…oh and gin –thank God for Hendrick’s gin!  

Get ready for a dystopian Trumpian nightmare!

From this day forward…the future is orange…and no I’m not talking about the lovable Hughie on DWTS; he’s a sweetheart. I’m talking about Vladimir Putin’s BFF, Donald Trump; the low rent reality star who listened to some self-serving, parasitic sycophant when they placed the idea into that rat’s maze he wears on his head that he had a shot at becoming POTUS!

  And, last week, as the Oompa Lumpa took up position in the White House as the weakest, most pathetic commander-in-chief the world has ever witnessed, conceitedly playing out the role of President on Twitter, I sat dumbstruck as, in his usual graceless manner, he threw shade at his predecessors by insulting their achievements and offered himself as a kind of Christ-like saviour sent to rid America’s cities of their “carnage.”

  In short, the man who takes repulsive to a whole new level continued to get it wrong as his inauguration speech did absolutely nothing to set mine, or other worried human beings’ minds at ease. The angst was further reflected in the lacklustre attendance at this joker’s inauguration, leading his camp to warn, though I’d suggest threaten, the media would pay a “big price” for allegedly lying about the size of the turnout, defaming an entire group of professionals, (of which I am one), with his slanderous comment reported in the Irish Independent and several media outlets, by branding journalists as being among “the most dishonest human beings on earth.”

  Can someone wake me when this 70-year-old, belligerent buffoon of a man-child grows up?

Well done Tesco!

Despite the fact that Tesco occupy a strong space in Ireland’s retail market and despite the fact it’s a popular chain, for various reasons, I’m not a major fan. 

  That said, I have to give them their due and congratulate their innovative and highly compassionate scheme, targeted at senior shoppers and those with an illness, currently being piloted in one of its Scottish stores, i.e. ‘the relaxed checkout.’ I love it! 

  As a concerned daughter whose elderly dad shops regularly at one of Tesco’s larger Dublin branches, and, as my darling dad is a friendly gentleman who loves to chat, take things at a slower pace and not feel pressured into rushing to keep up with others, I applaud Tesco’s innovation and urge them to roll out this scheme across all stores.   

  In addition, as Roscommon has the fourth oldest population in the country, with some seniors feeling isolated and vulnerable, the setting up of a slower lane/checkout would definitely benefit many shoppers, encouraging them to get out a bit more and make friends while they shop.