Friday 16 December 2022

Making Snowmen

snowman is an anthropomorphic snow sculpture of a man often built in regions with sufficient snowfall and is a common winter tradition. In many places, typical snowmen consist of three large snowballs of different sizes with some additional accoutrements for facial and other features. Due to the sculptability of snow, there is also a wide variety of other styles. Common accessories include branches for arms and a rudimentary smiley face, with a carrot used for a nose. Clothing, such as a hat or scarf, may be included. The low cost and common availability of materials mean snowmen are usually abandoned once completed.

Alex Fox

Friday 9 December 2022

Christmas Decorations

Christmas decorations are any of several types of ornamentation used at Christmastide and the greater holiday season. The traditional colors of Christmas are pine green (evergreen), snow white, and heart red. Gold and silver are also very common, as are other metallic colours. Typical images on Christmas decorations include Baby Jesus, Father Christmas, Santa Claus, and the star of Bethlehem.

In many countries, such as Sweden, people start to set up their Advent and Christmas decorations on the first day of Advent. Liturgically, this is done in some parishes through a Hanging of the Greens ceremony. In the Western Christian world, the two traditional days when Christmas decorations are removed are Twelfth Night and if they are not taken down on that day, Candlemas, the latter of which ends the Christmas-Epiphany season in some denominations. Taking down Christmas decorations before Twelfth Night, as well as leaving the decorations up beyond Candlemas, is historically considered to be inauspicious.

Alex Fox

Friday 2 December 2022

Driver 308’s Commonwealth Games Adventure-Day 7

Day 7 July 10th  2022

Today was an R&R day so a bit of a lie in. Time to reflect on the various hotels we’ve stayed in so far.





July 1st & 2nd


Sandy Park Marriot

Very nice, best breakfast of all, sharing with Trevor

July 3rd


Future In

Nice, good evening meal sharing with Trevor, no Mamite

July 4th


Alexandra House Conference Centre

Own room 177, the last one on the ground floor, evening meal very poor.

July 5th


Moor Hall CIM

Own Room, good food.

July 6th


Holiday inn Woking

Sharing with Trevor, got into bed at 00:30 and up again at 05:15am, nuff said.

July 7th


Bridgewood Manor, Chatham

Own room, nice hotel.

July 8th


Dunstan Hall

Probably the best hotel, but no Marmite

July 9th


Westone Manor

Own room, tired fittings, sliding bathroom door. Very off layout

July 10th


Travelodge/Olde Barnes

Travelodge was fine, ate at the Olde Barnes, good evening meal with Apple Crumble dessert!

July 11th


Best Western Wakefield

Confined to room due to Covid.

The hotels we’ve been staying have been quite varied, but all OK really. But there are oddities with every hotel……….

In Exeter my room was 227 so on the second floor which was below the reception on the third floor, that was always confusing when using the lift or stairs! It had stunning views from the 8th floor bar and terrace though.

The hotel in Plymouth was very good, nothing odd about it at all.

However the next hotel in Swindon was something else entirely. It wasn’t actually in Swindon at all, nearer to  Marlborough in open countryside. Mid afternoon it suffered a complete power failure and they thought the hotel would have to be closed which would have been a major problem finding rooms for the 80 relay crew at very short notice. Luckily the power was restored around 7pm and they were they able to provide hot food. I could not get the hang of the layout at all it was totally baffling. I had room 177 on the ground floor which was the very last room on a corridor that made a square. So the room at the end, mine, was actually very close to the point where the first room was, but there was no linking corridor. To get from reception, restaurant or bar I had to walk the whole length of the corridor past the other 176 rooms!

The next hotel would have been the  Holiday Inn in Guildford, but there was a shortage of rooms so Trevor and myself were sent to a Holiday Inn in Woking a 20 minute drive away. It was gone 23:30 when we arrived, we parked  the minibus outside under the reception canopy as it was too high to go in the underground parking! When we got in our room it had one bed, so we had to wait while the housekeeper produced a second bed. However by  00:30 we able to  get to bed. We were up at 05:30 to get back to Guildford for breakfast at 06:30.

As the Relay progressed the crew numbers increased such that there was often an overspill hotel. I was offered a choice by the Accommodation Manager – share a room with Trevor in the main hotel or have my own room in the overspill hotel. As a driver with access to a vehicle being in the overspill was no hardship and it meant both Trevor and I got our own rooms. Trevor was a very nice chap to share with, but neither of us got a good nights sleep when sharing.

The Bridgewood Manor Hotel was very nice as was the main hotel the Holiday Inn at Tonbridge.

The next nights hotel was Dunston Hall near Norwich this is very impressive. Very nice buildings beautiful setting too and very nice choice of evening meal in the outdoor marquee.

Westone Manor in Northampton was another one that was an absolute maze, first hotel I’ve ever stayed in (and I stayed in a lot hotels abroad when I was working) where room 413 was on the ground floor in a totally different part to the rooms in the 100 range. There is a video of the route from my room to the breakfast room.

The Olde Barnes and Travel Lodge at Grantham were very straightforward in comparison.

You may be wondering why the availability of Marmite features in the comments. I like Marmite so much that I carried a 500g jar with me in case the hotel does not have Marmite for my toast at breakfast.  A 500g jar would be sufficient of a month.

Having to move hotel every day means you have to be very organised with the unpacking and packing, keeping your crew bag tidy, only taking out what you need immediately and keeping everything else packed. A set routine is important as is having a system for checking nothing is left behind; phone chargers, USB leads and sponge bags being the most common things to go missing.

Jumping forward to when we stayed at the Village Hotel in Dudley my room ,506, was on the second floor (uh?) and this was definitely the weirdest layout. The route from reception to room 506 was as follows:

1. Lift to floor 1.

2. Walk the length of floor 1 to another lift.

3. Lift to floor 2 for rooms 501 to 509, this is a totally different floor 2 to that reached by the lift from reception.

As a driver on R&R I was asked to drive one of the luggage Luton Vans to the next hotel, The Olde Barnes at Grantham. I arrived in time to have a burger and chips in the bar before helping to unload.

It was whilst helping to unload that I first wondered why I seemed to be finding the unloading hard work. I put it down to the heat and getting old! I was actually in the Travelodge 2 miles down the road, so drove down in a Range Rover with my luggage and had a 20 min soak in a cool bath – felt much better. Returned to the Olde Barne for the evening meal by which time Ally had returned after her day with John driving the shuttlebus as I was on R&R. After the meal I was able to drive the shuttlebus down to the Travelodge.