Last Minute Arrangements

The date for my holidays in June had been planned well in advance but somehow at the end of May the arrangements had still not been made.  The original destination was going to be a bit difficult to arrange at the last minute so for some reason that we can’t now recall, we settled on Carcassonne as the destination.

To avoid fathoming out arrangements and piecing them together on the internet we visited a travel agent.  As we arrived one of the representatives approached and said:

“Can I help?”

“Yes we would like to go to Carcassonne”

 A momentary pause and blank expression followed…

“Where’s that?”

“It is in France”

“You know you won’t be able to go as part of a package don’t you?”

“Yes”

The representative then gathered up a few brochures and logged onto the internet.  After a bit of searching he managed to find a flight from Bristol to Toulouse.  He then proceeded to book airport parking and a hire car to be picked up at Toulouse airport.

He then logged onto a curiously named website called “Beds to Go” to find a suitable hotel.  This proved a little more difficult and one of his colleagues stepped in with suggestions.  This was accompanied by quips about visiting a winter location in summer (Toulouse is close to skiing resorts in the Pyrenees).  A suitable hotel was found but we had to wait for a couple of days to see if it was available.  In the end it wasn’t and we had to execute plan B!  This worked to our advantage; the hotel was in a much better location than the hotel that proved not to be available.

Everyone in the travel agents wanted to know “Why Carcassonne?”  None of them had ever heard of it, so after asking the question they got a potted history of the area from two different perspectives.

A couple of the representatives told us about their recent training course where they were told that they would have to research holiday destinations for themselves.  They were also advised that the best way to learn about places was from their customers.  They all agreed they had learned a lot that day.

All in all it took about two and a half hours to get everything sorted and along the way the representative quipped that next year when we went to book our holiday we would be going to Majorca which will take only twenty minutes to book the accommodation and travel arrangements…

I think he may be disappointed (or pleasantly surprised) at next year’s holiday destination 😉

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A Game or Two

For as long as I can remember, my family was always into board and card games.  Following Sunday dinner (which was in the evening) we would sit down and play a game, that is if we weren’t going out for a walk which we did in the summer months.  Each Christmas I got a new game that always entertained us over the Christmas period and beyond.  After I left home, I continued the tradition of getting a new game to play each Christmas.

A few years ago, I found that the games on offer in the local shops had no new ideas or challenges and were uninteresting.  I wanted something slightly different so I did a bit of browsing on the internet and came across a website called the Board Game Geek’.  A board gamers dream!  This introduced me to a game called ‘The Settlers of Catan’ which I really enjoyed playing.  I went on to buy a couple more games that I discovered on the site, leading to a slight board game addiction and to me amassing a sizeable collection of games.

There are many types of board game including family games, educational games, strategy games, war games, “roll the dice” chance games and many more.  Out of all the genres my favourite type of board game is a strategy game, although I do like crazy family games too.  All of the games I choose to play finish in less than two hours.

At the same time as I was introduced to the ‘Board Game Geek’ I started to host regular board game evenings for my friends who, to their surprise, also loved the unusual games.  Some of those friends are gamers and others had never played games before.   We all had great fun and enjoyed the social gatherings.

The evenings have become less regular now and less people turn up at any one time, but we still have fun when we get together and reminisce with a smile those past wins and defeats, whilst looking forward to the next challenge.

When we first started playing I always seemed to beat the regular gamers which gave them a bit of a challenge.  I think this was because they are used to playing war games but I use different strategies when I play games.  One of my friends has made it a particular challenge to try and beat me and this is a standing joke (between us) no matter who wins.

Although most of my games don’t have them (too random for me), the urge to play board games together can be summed up with this regular comment from one of my friends,  ‘I always welcome the chance to rattle the bones’ (roll the dice).