to the station and dumping all their wares on board. I started wondering if there was anything out there (I mean on the web of course) that acts as a kind of directory for delivery service throughout the country.
If there wasn’t, then wouldn’t that be a gap in the internet market?
Ha. There is. I think it styles itself on the ‘gocompare.com’ and ‘comparethemarket.com’ sites. You type in what items you need moving; you then get free quotes from various companies in the area. You can read customer reviews of the services first and then choose which company you want to go with. Simples!
My dad used to run a food business which needed a delivery service that was prompt, direct and reliable. I remember the telephone conversations he used to have with delivery companies. “Why have they not arrived? What do you mean they have? My customer says they haven’t! Have you got a signature? Why not?” and so on. Cue kilos of meat going bad in the back of some plonker’s van. My dad had pretty good insurance, which I’m sure saved his business more times than he’d like to say.
What most people need from a delivery service is timeliness and reliability. I’m not an expert, but then it’s hardly rocket science. Provided genuine customers are putting real reviews online on this site, I think this kind of service directory is a great idea!Read More
Marrol’s Hotel restaurant, Messina, is one of those super posh places that my mum and dad go to when they’re in London sometimes. The tablecloths are made of expensive, heavy gold linen, the walls are lined with bottles of wine and the atmosphere is … posh.
The food was absolutely to die for. In fact, so was the chef! He came out and introduced himself (Michal Skrabak – but with those Slovak letters where there’s an upside-down roof ^ over the ‘S’ and an accent on the ‘a’) to the restaurant diners and was downright cute!
However, back to business. His food was just superb.
I had sheep milk cheese with truffle sorbet, honey sauce and wine jelly for my starter. I’ve never had truffle before, but I figured the sheep milk cheese would be very Feta-ish, and I was right. The truffle sorbet melted as soon as it hit my tongue and left me with a sort of happy feeling in my temples. I wonder if that’s why people like truffle. Like it’s some kind of narcotic food or something. The wine jelly was … well … wine … and jelly … at the same time. Nothing much to say on it – to be honest, I thought it was a bit overblown, but since there was only a smudge of the honey sauce, I guess I was glad for anything more on my plate. But still, what there was on the plate was gorgeous.
I chose catfish for my main course. I know, it’s a weird one, but the thing is, I really love fish, and I’ve never had catfish. It seemed to have such bizarre ingredients that I figured it was probably a Slovakian combination, although it could easily have been the chef being ‘artisan’ or whatever they like to think of themselves as.
The catfish was simmered in a butter sauce with beetroot slices (so everything quickly became purple), grilled fennel and weird garlic foam. The kind of foams that Heston is famous for.
I actually really enjoyed it, but I didn’t really feel full, so I thought I’d go for a pudding too. (And I thought after that if I still had room, a cheese dish wouldn’t be a problem. My dad knew what he was in for, I’m quite sure.)
Pudding was these little curd dumplings filled with cherries and covered with breadcrumbs. I suspect they were fried. They almost melted into my mouth, and the fruit in the middle was really refreshing.
At this point, I took pity on my dad’s wallet and stopped short at the cheeses. I thought room service would be a safe bet later on. Greedy little swine, I know, but hey! I’m on holiday!Read More
If there’s one thing long train rides are good for, it’s internet surfing. And boy, do I love surfing the net. One of the things I like to do is pick random words to follow. I start off by reading something, and if there is a word or a place that I don’t know, I either paste it into a search engine or click on it. This way I end up crawling all over the internet, reading about things I wouldn’t have even thought of, just because I didn’t know anything about them.
Take Nuneaton, for example. It’s a suburb of Birmingham, from what I can make out. I’ve heard of its neighbour, Hinckley – don’t know why – but I didn’t know much about Nuneaton. I thought it might be a bit industrialised and boring, what with the kind of reputation that Slough has, down south, but it would seem that the people of Nuneaton like their town better than those who live in Slough. (Remember David Brent in The Office, saying how awful Slough is?)
Sure, it is industrialised, but it’s got some lovely old buildings too, like St Peter’s Church. I know it sounds silly, but if you were looking for long or short term storage Nuneaton would be the place to go (provided you didn’t live too far away). You know, if you’re looking for a place to store the old sofas that you’re saving for your student child to take with them when they leave for uni (hint, hint, Mum and Dad). There’s a company called Extra Room Self Storage in Nuneaton which has all these smart corridors with orange doors, and behind the doors are the rooms for your storage. In fact, they remind me of extra large safety deposit boxes – which I suppose in effect, is just what they are.
OK, back to the web searching – I wonder who does the best croissants round here?Read More
I’ve decided that in the future, I will probably want to become a travel writer. Not investigating amazing and ancient rainforests and deserts, but tramping through all the five star hotels in the world. I could write an encyclopaedia of them, all of them. Obviously I’d have to visit them every year, or else I wouldn’t be able to keep up to date. What a nightmare job!
I’ve no idea if Marrol’s Hotel is a five star or four, but what counts is the luxury customer service, even to tired looking travellers who smell peculiar. The receptionist was just lovely – I think she had just spoken to my dad. She spoke perfect English, directed me towards a porter who carried my sick bag into the lift and all the way along the corridor upstairs. The room was beautiful and modern, the shower was the most amazing thing I think I’ve ever had, and when I asked customer service (I think it was the receptionist again) for washing powder so I could hand wash my clothes (there was no way I was wearing anything in that bag until it had been washed), it arrived in five minutes.
I collapsed into the fabulous sofa in a luxurious, soft dressing gown and watched terrible Slovakian TV while my clothes dried on the radiators. Luckily my tablet computer had not been in the bag and I had managed somehow to save it from the vomit deluge.
I’ve booked a table at the restaurant tonight and have decided that if I’m to make the most of the experience of travelling, then I should eat genuine foreign food, so I’m going to spend the next two hours studying the menu so that I don’t get something I hate.
I’ve just noticed that I have probably mentioned the vomit episode on nearly every post so far. I wonder if it has scarred me mentally. Probably. Hopefully the rest of the trip will be without yucky incidents like that.Read More
I arrived in Bratislava this morning unwashed, a bit tatty round the hair and face region, luggage still firmly in hand, wishing I’d splashed out on a First Class ticket with a sleeper car. I didn’t feel wide awake enough to enjoy my day, which was a real shame.
Until I got a message on my phone. My dad texted to say that he was treating me to a single night in a super-snazz hotel for my first night and told me to get a taxi there. He said he would ring ahead to tell them I was on my way to check in. Most hotels don’t let you check in before a certain time, but a few minutes later, he texted back to say it was fine and they were expecting me.
I managed to pick up a taxi which was idling by a bus stop and showed the driver my text with the hotel address. (I don’t even know how the Slovak language sounds, so it’s a bit hard to produce the words without that.)
As the taxi guy reached his hand out, for a few horrible seconds I thought he was about to steal my phone, but he just turned my hand towards him so that he could see the phone screen better.
As we pulled up to Marrol’s Boutique Hotel, I realised I only had a few Euros on me, but he only charged me €5 anyway. I’ve got to stop panicking before something happens. Perhaps that should be my mission from now on.Read More
Oh, okay, it’s not so much a stopover, but after travelling for what feels like a million hours, still occasionally catching a whiff of vomit (not too often, thanks to a certain brand of body spray and two packs of baby wipes), the two hour rest in this really nice part of Munich felt fabulous!
I’m so glad I brought my tablet. It basically tells me anything I need to know about where I am, provided I ask the right questions.
I tracked down this cute little café-bar called Cosmos Café just down the way from the train station. I took the tram to get there and back, which meant I had time for eating, not just peering into the window.
It’s tucked in between a shop that sells some horrific looking weaponry – not just guns, but those scary Ninja throwing stars and some serious knives – and a dodgy kebab shop.
Café Cosmos offers totally funky European beers, vodka shots out of a vending machine delivered by a kind of futuristic Barbie doll (€1 per go) and continental bar food – basically olives, cheese, crusty bread, olive oil and balsamic vinegar … that kind of thing. I also got some little white fishes called Sardellen, which I’m almost certain is German for anchovies, but they were white, not brown, and not at all salty. Confused.com!
I was so hungry, mainly because after the drunk man was sick on me, I couldn’t exactly walk up and down the train to buy food. Café Cosmos helped me eat, drink and make merry. Although I didn’t understand what anyone was saying, when I said ein Mann auf mich erbrochen (a man vomited on me), they all knew what I was saying. The bar man bought me another drink to make up for having a horrible time, and I made it back to the train station with minutes to spare, at 23:25.
Only to find that I couldn’t have a sleeper car because I am a 2nd class traveller.
The thing is, even though this journey hasn’t been very easy, I am weirdly enjoying it.Read More
I’ve now been sat on this flaming train, smelling funny (me, not the train, this isn’t the UK) for nearly five hours. Bored.com. I’ve been here so long, I’m starting to think about the long term future.
Here’s the plan again, in case you haven’t been paying attention to my previous posts.
I’m going to be travelling around Europe (and anywhere else I can get away to) for the next few months, largely on trains. Sigh.
After that, it’s university for me. Location unspecified as yet – I have a place, but I’m not certain I want to go there. I’ll be pursuing cultural studies or something related. Obviously I’m going to aim for as high a grade as possible – I don’t think there’s any reason why I couldn’t achieve a First at my degree. After all, I’ve got enough brains to work out money making ventures like Forex trading and online gambling, so you’d think there’d be a certain amount of relaxation for me around the whole studying lark.
Unfortunately, I have worries about my style of writing as far as essay writing is concerned. I’ve been a little inconsistent at this throughout my A/AS levels, and I can’t decide whether it’s because my teachers weren’t very good or if it’s something to do with me. Perhaps I’m too stubborn to write in a set, specified way. That’s why I like blogging, because I can write what I like, and I don’t have to worry that I’m ‘getting it wrong’. What’s ‘wrong’, anyway?
While I was writing my essays for my A levels, I found a great site which had examples of essay writing available for everyone to see. These really helped me understand the process better, so I think I will have to crib up on all that before I head off to uni.
Following university (and my First grade), I think I want to come up with something more interesting than just being a teacher. Let’s face it, even teachers want to do something more interesting than just teaching.
I think I shall spend the next hour imagining up various alternative careers for me to pursue.Read More