Monday, 27 April 2015

The First Frappé

Well we got home safely on Saturday after what was probably the easiest journey from the UK to Rhodes we'd ever undertaken. Good old National Express coach from Swindon to Heathrow Central Bus Station, then from there on to Gatwick Airport North Terminal. There was only one heart-in-the-mouth moment, so all in all a pretty good voyage. We were only one junction away from the Heathrow turn-off on the M4 motorway when the traffic came to a grinding standstill. When I say standstill, I mean people getting out of their cars to have a fag in the centre lane with their door open standstill. It was that kind of standstill. All the traffic was standing, kind of, still.

We knew that we had about 25 minutes turnaround at Heathrow Central Bus Station and we were soon watching the digital clock at the front of the coach and seeing it creeping inexorably toward, then past the time at which we ought to have been arriving at Heathrow. Just when it looked as if our goose was cooked and we were wondering if we'd make it to Gatwick in time at all, the logjam was broken and we began to creep forward. The coach driver was very reassuring and was in contact with his office throughout the time during which we were at a standstill. We eventually passed a four or five vehicle pile-up at the side of the road, toward which we'd seen emergency vehicles hurrying (thus causing all sorts of interesting manouvres as other vehicles tried to move aside for them to pass) while we'd been stationary. It was a bright, clear, sunny day and so it was hard to imagine how such a pile-up could have occurred. The driver speculated (probably rightly so) about people using their phones and stuff. In fact he said that he witnessed more accidents in calm, bright weather than in the rain and fog. 

"See, the thing is" he told us (we were sitting at the front, right by the front passenger door), "When it's raining and foggy, drivers pay more attention, generally. But when it's good conditions for driving you see them glancing first right, then left, from their dashboard-mounted mobile phone (even when it's handsfree) to their sat-nav screen, so often that they bounce off the vehicle in front before they know it. I tell you, sat-nav screens cause more accidents..." and so on. You get the idea. 

He assured us that we'd make our connecting coach and we did. As we pulled into the coach's bay at Heathrow, the one we needed for Gatwick was already ticking over and waiting for us. I tell you, National Express do a grand job. We made it to Gatwick in time for an Americano each in the departure lounge and a visit to the loo before making our way to the gate. We took off over half an hour late and landed in Rhodes bang on time. This was due to a 60mph tailwind assisting us all the way. Good eh?

You know what really made the journey special? The beer. Regular readers will know that I'm partial to a good pint of good old British real ale. This year I am pleased to recall that I managed more of them than I have been able to achieve on quite a few UK visits in recent years.

One beer I was well taken with was the one I'd sampled at the Green Rocket Vegetarian Café/Restaurant on the corner of Pierrepont Street and North Parade in Bath on Monday April 20th. Here you go...

...and dashed good it was too. was the food. Yea, that is Haloumi cheese on my spicey veggieburger!
But you'll never guess what. Good old EasyJet do a three for £6 offer in their Bistro menu, a drink (cold or hot), a bite to eat (choice from some really nice sandwiches, paninis and baguettes) and a dessert, which may be a choccy bar or some crisps (here we go again,  read this post folks, ...then weep if you're American). I reckon that's not a bad deal considering you're a captive audience at 34,000 feet aren't you.

Anyway, now I come to think of it, I had a bottle of water as part of that deal. It was later, as they were offering us one last chance to nab a drink before we began our descent that I decided to ask (vainly I'd expected) if they had a can of beer on board, but not lager. The steward only told me that they stocked this little baby didn't he!...

The Old Speckled Hen at 34,000 feet. That's what I call a RESULT!

So, all in all, a rather pleasing journey home to unseasonably cold Rhodes. There we were having barbies in my sister's back garden in sunny Wiltshire, taking coffees in street Cafés in Devizes...

...when by all accounts the weather in Rhodes has been temperature-wise rather more like one would expect in January-February than in April. The first tourists are here folks. We saw them with our own eyes yesterday. There they were making the best of it, strolling along the roadside in their cut-offs and sleeveless tops while the waiter at the Café where we took our first frappé after coming home grumbled on about how wintery the weather is. 

"Never mind," my dearly beloved assured him, "usually it shoots up a few degrees almost overnight come the start of May. It'll soon warm up now."

"I don't know," replied our cheery waiter, "I reckon we're in for a cold summer."

Now, listen up here. No need to panic or to change your travel plans. If you're planning a holiday on Rhodes this summer, just remember that what he probably meant was that the temperature may be a mere 35 instead of 40 come the high summer months.

You'll hardly notice it. But pack a vest just in case.


  1. God old National Express? Must have been divine intervention that got you to Heathrow on time!

    1. God, Vicki, is now good. How appropriate.

  2. I WILL get the other corrections to you today!

    1. And she did folks! Only not all of them. Plus, you weren't s'posed to make this public Vicki, you'll bring me down in my readers' estimations. They'll be estimating all over the shop now.

  3. I am just winding things up in the UK in preparation for my flight on 12/05/15 from Stansted to Diagoras courtesy of Ryanair. My priority on arrival will be getting my air-con serviced, not thermal vests!
    I will be interested to see if my “exotic” plants have survived the “harsh” winter or, more realistically, the attentions of the local gastropods!
    I will have to endure nearly six months without Adnams, or Woodfordes, but it is worth it. I appreciate it even more on my return.
    Despite qualms about a putative partial or total Grexit I am really looking forward to coming home.


    1. Yea, well, we've had the "Grexit" rumours for seven years now Simon, so I wouldn't worry about that too much. Regarding the winter weather generally, fact is it has been mild but slightly wetter than normal. Seems the weather during April was simply more like January/February and thus the woeful reaction of the locals.