Seaglass

Easington Colliery is not a place that you would normally think of as holiday trip destination but we went there not so long ago – and it was great.

Yes it is really a colliery village – or more to the point, an ex-colliery village – and you can park and then walk across the rec , as I am sure it is called,and down a lot of uneven steps to the pebble beach.

My best beloved picked up a lovely little stone which looked liked a smoothed glass pebble which was, say, a pale jade or if you like your colours posh, teal.

Along the beach was a woman looking very intently for something and I wondered if she was a fossil hunter.

Anyway, and there is always an anyway in my stories, I went off to walk along the beach leaving the best beloved sitting on a rock with the dog running between us.

I was looking for more glass pebbles to add to the collection the BB was giving me.

Anyway, imagine my surprise then when I looked back to find both had disappeared.

Now my BB is not a man who these days can gallop of across rocks and up hills and down dales, so I was worried.

I went (galloping) across the rocks looking for both of them and shouting their names – nothing….

Of course, dear reader, I found them – both happily mooching and the BB beckoning me to look at some landslide or another – as you do.

(The dog meanwhile, was suggesting that I had fretted over nothing and she had the situation all under control.)

Together – with me making sure we were all a pack together – we went back to the main beach and the fossil hunting woman was still there, looking intently at the beach and moving very slowly.

It was my BB who asked her what she was hunting and she said, ‘seaglass.’

She was American and had learned to pick up seaglass as a child – her mother had found some and set her children to find more.

(Wise woman who found a way to send her kids off and keep them occupied.)

Seaglass is the rubbed shards of glass from all sorts of bottles and you can look it up on Wikipedia.

Anyway (again,) this nice woman said she had come to this part of the world on an especial seaglass hunt and apparently there was a bottle-making factory up the coast and this was a great beach to find seaglass.

She had a bag full – or at least a plastic food bag half full – of these very same ‘pebbles’ of pale jade.

As we were talking she pointed out several pebbles and, generously, handed them to me.

Now, I am not sure that Easington Colliery was much of a beach destination in its heyday as a colliery – and I wouldn’t have expected to have it part of my holiday, but to find a lovely American woman who had flown across the Atlantic to be there, was indeed a surprise.

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The Club Sandwich

I think I might have said before that I do realise ‘tales from my holiday’ are something close to gloating and should be avoided.

However, unless you want to read my four page seminal work on how to sort and price a donation of books to Oxfam written this afternoon for new volunteers, this is all I have.

Arriving late into Lisbon, we had opted to stay the night there rather than get the hire car from somewhere in the airport and drive three hours across the country in the dark, to a place that barely registered on any map.

Last time, and for that matter the time before, we were in Lisbon we stayed in a lovely, posh hotel which was built into the castle walls. Suffice it to say, it had its own peacocks.

(On one stay there, we had a bodyguard.

Actually, he was guarding my husband, not me, as he pointed out when I said that he must be tired and we would be perfectly alright on our own.

I could, it seems, have wandered across the city on my own risking all sorts but as long as the best beloved was protected to the very door of the very nice hotel, all was right in the world.)

This time it was a chain hotel near-ish to the airport and that -ish later became important.

We arrived to a very polite and friendly welcome and settled into the bar area and ordered a club sandwich.

Now a good club sandwich is a nice thing and the benchmark for us was set by a hotel in Reading, yes really.

We had arrived, do stop me if I have told you this before, footsore, hungry and weary after train chaos on the way back from watching rugby in Cardiff and unable to use any form of public transport to get us further towards Petersfield.

It was about 10pm and we had no luggage, but the receptionist promptly produced a pair of toothbrushes – and that was a very nice gesture.

Room service, she told us, could rustle up a club sandwich, a beer and a glass of white wine.

So we went to our room. It had a huge bed, a good film on the telly and minutes later the best club sandwich (with good chips) arrived – it was all very good indeed.

( I may have overused the word good, but really it was!)

So, back in Lisbon, the club sandwich was fine, but not a patch on Reading.

Now, the receptionist had told us there was a taxi strike the next day but all we needed to do was to call down when we got up and by the time we had showered and got dressed a, presumably strike-breaking, taxi would appear and all would be well.

I did have a moment’s thought about black-legging but I compared that to lugging cases around the public transport system and swallowed it.

Next day, however it turned out there were a lot fewer strike-breakers than would have been ideal in the circumstances.

We were advised by the day shift receptionist that we should take the metro. Now that would have been OK if not for the fact that as we left the hotel there was a airport shuttle minibus about to set off.

The night receptionist had failed to mention this fact and therefore to advise us to book a seat. There were no seats available for hours.

I won’t bore you with a minute by minute account of the Lisbon metro ( it is fine, really) and will just mention that there are signs in all the carriages explaining, in a variety of languages, smoking was prohibited.

But the English translation was ‘No Smokers!’

A bit harsh I thought, and how could they be sure of every passenger’s personal habits. But maybe it explained why in the face of a taxi strike, the trains were surprisingly empty on the last leg to the airport.