Sean's Stories

Posted by sean on September 29, 2019 at 10:02 pm in Life In Bath with No Comments


To celebrate the 35th wedding anniversary of Alison and Paul – Claire’s parents and my in-laws – we were treated to Sunday lunch at The Bath Priory.

After hearing about this place from work colleagues, as well as reading about it in the local newspaper, I have been keen to attend for some time.

I was expecting good things from the food, especially as, until recently, The Priory was Bath’s only Michelin Star restaurant – only losing the award because the chef left and apparently not due to a decrease in quality of the food.

Alison put a lot of work into organising the meal – where we were seated in our own private room – not least liaising with The Priory staff, to ensure that each of the eight party members had meals to meet all their (sometimes complicated) palates.

As well as Claire, her parents and myself, the other party members included John and Jess – Claire’s brother and his wife; along with Jennifer and Alasdair – Claire’s aunt and uncle.

I am personally grateful for all the menu negotiations made, considering that I probably caused the biggest issues of all. Not only am I a veggie, but the list of cheeses I eat is restricted to mild cheddar, edam, Dairylea, Philadelphia and Babybel.

Clearly, the chef of a five-star establishment was not going to serve me a Dairylea Dunker, telling me to shut up and enjoy it – although I would have probably deserved it.

Before the three course meal could be served, we were all presented with canapes. I have only ever had these once and they were bloody awful.

I was first given them while with Claire, on our honeymoon, crusing on Ventura – the same ship we sailed on last week. We left them in our fridge, until they developed mould and our cabin steward took them away.

Today’s canapes couldn’t have been more different to those four years ago. Apple, avocado, melon and garlic were just some of the ingredients that were used in the creation of the four different very tasty appetisers.

My starter was soup. Nothing special, you may think. Wrong. This was no cream of tomato or minestrone – today’s offering was pea and mint.

There was originally feta in the dish, but as I have restricted myself to only eating cheeses designed for five-year-olds, the chef left my soup cheeseless. I originally held high hopes for the starter and I was not left disappointed.

The main course was where I caused all the trouble. The vegetarian option was a pasta dish filled with cheese. As this cheese wasn’t a Babybel wrapped in red wax, an alternative had to be created especially for me.

Compliments to the chef, who cooked me a butternut squash risotto, sprinkled with truffles – not the chocolate variety, but the thing like a mushroom, that pigs sniff out. Therefore, I feel that I should thank Babe and his snout, for contributing to my dish.

Dessert was my favourite course of all. A raspberry souffle, with sorbet on the side. Not only was it my favourite part of the entire meal, but the only dish which I ate every last mouthful.

You can tell that the meal is finished – nearly everyone has run off!

All in all, a very enjoyable meal and afternoon; plus an experience I’ll probably not have again for a long time – it’s not every day I get to visit such a prestigious restaurant.

Thank you very much to Alison and Paul for organising the afternoon and many congratulations on your 35th wedding anniversary.

When Claire and I reach that milestone, I’ll be 68! If I’m still blogging then, I’ll post a report on our return visit to The Bath Priory.

Posted by sean on September 28, 2019 at 11:38 pm in Football, Holiday with No Comments


My final blog post about my cruise – I promise.

Whenever you go on holiday, you will see tourists in football shirts. It’s an almost certain sight and one all the more likely, if you choose to travel to a location visited by the British.

It doesn’t matter if you are visiting a cheap, all inclusive resort in Benidorm, or a remote villa in Tuscany – keep your eye out and sooner rather than later, you won’t be left disappointed. Unless you discover that a family of Chelsea fans are staying in the neighbouring room/villa/caravan/cabin, in which case your holiday is ruined.

Some people clearly believe that if you wear the kit of your team, it automatically makes you the greatest fan of your club – at least in the country you’re visiting.

In some cases, that may be true. For example, if I was to wear a Leeds shirt while visiting The Vatican. Due to the small population, not only would I be the best Leeds supporter, but the only one.

The same can be said if you were to wear a Yeovil Town shirt while in China – for the same reason as in my original example.

Back home in Britain, it’s always nice if you spot someone wearing the shirt of the team you support. This feeling extends to super giddiness, when the same shirt is seen being worn while you are in another country.

To non-football fans, this can best be described by comparing the behaviour of your typical supporters, to that of two dogs, meeting in the park.

Despite not knowing each other and having no sexual attraction, due to being castrated (dogs, not football fans), they go wild – jumping into each other, sniffing the other one’s bottom and barking excessively.

What the dogs are saying, God only knows – probably something like this…

Dog 1: “Hey there! I’m a dog!”
Dog 2: “Wow! I am also a dog!”
Dog 3: “Are you guys dogs?”

You must be wondering where I am going with all this waffle.

Well, despite being a bit chavvy *, I spotted numerous football shirts on the cruise. I kept a list of the offending clubs…
* I wore a football shirt on the ship too, ok. So don’t think I’m being snobbish.

  1. Swansea City
  2. Middlesbrough
  3. Huddersfield Town
  4. Coventry City
  5. Manchester United **
  6. Liverpool (retro shirt)
  7. Leeds United – worn by me
  • I also think that I spotted somebody in a Bournemouth shirt.
  • An honourable mention for a smart Leeds United backpack, which I noticed while going through security.

** like with rats, you’re never more than six feet away from a Manchester United fan.

So that is that. No more blogs about the cruise. Probably…

Posted by sean on September 25, 2019 at 7:58 pm in Holiday with No Comments


You know when you buy a film on DVD? They usually come with an entire host of extras, don’t they? More often than not, there are outtakes. Do you watch them? No, I don’t either.

For the first time ever, on the entire internet, in the whole history of blogging, I have created Blog Outtakes!

You will have seen that I have recently posted photos of a cruise, which Claire and I have just returned from.

So, here are some holiday snaps and even a video, which I couldn’t use on a blog post, but would find impossible not to include somewhere on my website…

Believe it or not, Claire is not angry.
Who could be with hot chocolate and cake in front of them?
This is simply an unfortunate case of bad timing during a photo being snapped.

I look very surprised, don’t I?
Believe it or not, I am not shocked at all – this is me attempting to smile and pose for a photo.

Attempt at smile No.2
I look more like a blind rabbit.

Chasing Claire down the corridor on my scooter.
I’ve been missing Grand Theft Auto.

Posted by sean on September 24, 2019 at 10:41 pm in Holiday with No Comments


You may have noticed that I haven’t updated my blog for almost two weeks.

You will have no doubt assumed that I had become lazy, or given up on the blogging thing after over 15 years.

Did you think that? If you did, you would be WRONG!

My good wife and I have just returned to Bath, after spending 11 nights on the fabulous ship, Ventura.

As with my two previous cruises, I kept a daily diary while I was away. However, have only made the posts live today. It wouldn’t take Basil the Great Mouse Detective to work out that by me blogging about a holiday, than my house was empty – therefore providing easy-pickings for any burglars and probably invalidating my home insurance for advertising the fact that nobody is protecting the home – apart from Roman.

Without further a-do, here is a list of every post I made during my holiday…

Be aware: I haven’t proof-read all of these yet, so if you spot any errors though shi*.

What? I meant ship!

Posted by sean on September 23, 2019 at 10:00 pm in Holiday with No Comments


The final day of our cruise and my last blog post of the holiday – I’m not planning on writing anything for Day 12, unless we have any unexpected drama.

Go to the restaurant for our final breakfast of the cruise. We could, in fact, visit again tomorrow, but are hoping for a fast, stress-free disembarkation.

The usual high level of service, which we have experienced whenever we have eaten in the establishment, was provided to us yet again.

As we ate, Captain Allen’s voice boomed from the speakers within the restaurant. “Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. You may have seen the news this morning…”

At this point, I thought to myself “What the heck’s happened? Clearly something big and bad. Has The Queen died overnight? Has London burnt down? Has Marcelo Bielsa left Leeds United?”

It transpired that the travel firm, Thomas Cook, have now ceased trading. Captain Allen was on hand to reassure those who have booked future cruises through the agency, that P&O would be in touch shortly. As I said to Claire, he didn’t confirm that those unlucky enough to have done business with the ill-fated firm, won’t lose their money.

After we had eaten, I made a terrible mistake. Something I have been trying to avoid doing all cruise. I ran over Claire with my scooter!

My scooter was having problems getting out on my scooter, from between the dining table and a wall. As I reversed, I would either become lodged on a chair or stuck on part of the restaurant wall.

Claire intervened, by trying to maneuver the scooter out of its trapped state from behind. Not fully aware of the situation, I hit reverse on the controls, only to fly backwards, into my wife, hurting her toe and arm. I was mortified.

Thankfully, there was no need to take a trip to the medical bay, as the worst of any injuries was tissue damage to her arm, plus 3 penalty points added to my scooter driving licence.

I still felt terrible, despite assuring myself that Claire was ok, and knowing that I wasn’t the first husband to run over his wife by mistake. The former football manager, Harry Redknapp, famously ran over his wife, Sandra’s leg in his car – presumably causing more damage to her than I did to Claire.

Made one final trip to the amusement arcade. Claire was keen to have one last go on the claw machine. As I happily blogged a few days ago, Claire had already pulled off a miracle and won a soft toy.

They say that lightning doesn’t strike twice. After this morning, I would now strongly advise my wife to avoid going outside during a thunderstorm, as for a reason that only the claw gods can answer, Claire won again! This time, instead of a mutant raccoon parrot, presumably from Chernobyl, the prize was a large, soft green crayon. Not freaky at all…

In the main atrium of the ship, members of the managerial team were hosting a competition as to how fast a cabin bed could be made. Captain Allen had a go and performed predictably poorly.

Given her job as a nurse, I suggested to Claire that she should enter. She modestly declined, saying that she wasn’t that good at bed making. I later overheard a much older woman telling anyone who would listen that, “I’m a nurse! I would win this!”. Of course you would, love. Of course you would…

Approached by a lovely couple, who I would guess to be in their sixties or seventies. The lady, with a West Yorkshire accent, had spotted the Leeds United badge on the back of my scooter. She seemed pleased to see a fellow White *
* a name for a Leeds fan, because of the team’s white kit, and not a term used by supporters of Nigel Farage.

Leeds fans are a strange breed. They are some of the most loyal supporters in the country. If they spot a fellow White, while out and about, they will almost always approach them, with a friendly “hello”. I don’t know why there is this bond, maybe it is because the club and fans have been through so much together.

We talked about Saturday’s 1-1 draw against Derby. She appeared happy with the result. I told her that it could have been better.

I was given some good advice by my fellow fan “That’s Leeds United for you”. It reminded me of what my grandma used to tell me “Leeds have always been an up and down team”.

Maybe I shouldn’t take negative Leeds results to heart so much. Sometimes, if they lose, not only does it ruin my weekend, but I take the negatively into the following week!

Hakuna Matata. We are Leeds.

Returned to our cabin. Our first task was to locate Laurence. He has been so good throughout our stay on Ventura; always friendly and smiling, while making us feel that nothing was ever too much trouble.

Laurence was certainly the best steward I have had on all the ships I have crused on, and the previous two were excellent.

We met Laurence and paid him all the thanks he deserved, as well as giving him a tip, as a sign of our gratitude.

He seemed generally touched by our thanks and said he would clean our cabin next. Bless him – we weren’t trying to bribe the man, although if I knew if we could pay for a priority service, we would have done so from the first night!

Mr Micky Arison, if you are ever looking for your next CEO for P&O Cruise Lines, remember Laurence.

Made use of room service one last time. After all, we won’t be able to get food hand delivered to us when we are back home – apart from Deliveroo, Ubereats, Just Eat, One Delivery…

One of the items ordered was soup of the day. According to the menu, this is supposed to be suitable for vegetarians. Today’s soup de jour was that much-loved favourite of all vegetarians, Beef and Mushroom. I did enquire into a veggie alternative was available and was pleased to be told that tomato soup was on the menu as standard. I duly ordered some.

Five minutes later, the telephone within the cabin rings. I answer…
“Hello?”
“Good afternoon, ma’am, this is room service. I am afraid that the tomato soup is unavailable”
“Oh, that’s ok. Don’t worry”
“Would you like us to send you the other soup that I mentioned, ma’am?”
“No thank you”

No soup for me then. Oh, and I did originally tell them that I was a veggie. I can only assume that the woman on the phone didn’t understand me, because of my over-feminine voice. I should have called her “Sir”.

Left our cabin and went in search of a very sentimental place – cabin D628, where we stayed over four years ago, while taking our honeymoon on Ventura. We may have only seen the cabin door, but for me, to make this pilgrimage, felt special.

Went to the Headliners Theatre this afternoon for the matinee performance of the much acclaimed show, Astonishing.

The production is the creation of Stephen Mulhern (the guy on almost everything on ITV), and is a mix of magic, illusion, dance and music.

Claire’s parents have seen the show on a previous cruise of their own and were so impressed that they insisted that we attend.

I am bloody glad that I did. The show was fantastic. Ventura’s theatre has clearly been updated and now boasts a huge screen at the rear of the stage, capable of displaying amazing 3D graphics, which the excellent performers from the Headliners Theatre Group are able to interact with.

The magic and illusions are as good as anything I have seen performed on the ITV talent show, Britain’s Got Talent. I especially enjoyed the audience participation trick, where everyone becomes the theatre is involved! The dancers and singers, who link seamlessly into the magic and illusions, are incredible.

Having now seen Astonishing myself, I must echo my in laws comments in saying that should you ever find yourself on a P&O cruise ship and the show is being performed, you must attend. In fact, if you haven’t got a cruise booked, you should buy one, simply to see this one show.

After that very generous plug, I fully expect to be contacted by Stephen Mulhern, or even the top dog himself, Micky Arison, and be offered a free cruise.

Met the lady Leeds fan, who I had first seen this morning on the way out of the theatre. She was the only person from a crowd of cruisers to let me and my scooter out. I guess being a Leeds supporter has some perks.

Our “last meal”, as Claire so wonderfully described it, was spent in the buffet. The theme – Country and Western. Lots of coleslaw, beans, wraps and best of all, corn on the cob.

After eating, we took a leisurely stroll and ride to the Metropolis Bar, which we had been planning to attend all holiday. Once we found our way to the bar, located in what felt like the crows nest of the ship, we realised that this was one venue we would be unable to attend. It was rammed and looked like half of Ventura’s passengers had decided to go for a drink at the bar. As a couple who very much enjoy each other’s company, but less so that of people we don’t know (and many people we do know), we chickened out and took the lift back to a much lower deck.

Now in bed, finishing off this final blog post of the cruise. Claire is asleep and given the time it is now and when we must both vacate our cabin – 8am – I should really be doing the same.

The ship is really rocking tonight, as we cross the English Channel. You can tell it’s now autumn. The air feels wet and there are low clouds everywhere, making visibility at sea poor. We spent a final half hour on our balcony, looking out across the vast expanse of water, occasionally seeing a light from a smaller vessel. Ventura keeps making her presence known, by sounding the fog horn.

I assume that this is the reason for using it. Maybe it’s like road rage, but at sea, and a ship from a rival cruise firm, Royal Caribbean (regularly featured on those Cruises From Hell documentaries), has cut Ventura up, or pulled up in front of us. I bet that Captain Allen is fuming!

All these blog posts will be uploaded to WordPress and will be online asap. This may take some time, as I haven’t proof read any of them. Plus I need to pick which photographs to use – although you don’t need to know any of that, because as you are reading this, it means I’ve already done all of that stuff.

Well that’s it. Until next year. Yes, we are crusing again. Where we’re going, when and on what ship, will remain a top secret for now.

Good night. Roman, we’re coming home to you, baby.

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