Maureen: the travel industry’s favourite columnist – 13 Dec 2006

A Minnie ‘crisis’

It really was a case of taking the mickey when one client popped in this week. Despite our Christmas window display getting no end of compliments, it appears that our previous exhibit had some fans of its own.
Promoting Disney, it featured large Mickey and Minnie mannequins which we expected all children to enjoy – but it soon appeared that some grown-ups were taking more than a passing interest in it.

One woman called in specifically to ask how long it would be in the window, and was told it would be another week before Mickey returned to do his Christmassy duties of making dreams come true.

However, it seemed she had a dream of her own. This week a chap dropped by to ask where the display had gone that his wife had seen.

When Nigel explained that displays have to be returned to the supplier, the chap’s face crumpled in a most un-Disney-like fashion. He explained that his son was having a Disney theme at his forthcoming wedding, followed by a honeymoon in Florida.

“Not a problem,” said Nigel, ebulliently. “The girls in here love organising weddings and honeymoons!”

“Oh, it’s already been booked,” said the man, “we just wanted your window display for the venue.”

What’s the phrase in common usage? More sauce than HP?

No midwife at the inn

Anyone who knows Holiday Autos acting commercial manager Debbie Sowden, knows she’s not one to hang about.

Timewasting is at the top of her ‘Don’t do’ list, so I was not surprised to hear that she’s given birth to new baby Jacob twelve days before he was due!

I know that Debbie had concerns about being in hospital over Christmas – what woman wouldn’t? I could think of nothing worse than handing over the seasonal reins to a man. Who wants fish fingers for Christmas dinner, and, more to the point, who’d want to come home to the washing-up after the twelve days of Christmas were over?

So, Debbie did the sensible thing and went into labour early. However, as the roads to her house were at least as congested as those in first century Bethlehem (what with the mass registration going on), the midwife was delayed and it was down to husband Mick to deliver the six pound infant at home.

An engineer with the Royal Air Force, Mick has no previous experience in this field (unlike the shepherds that visited Mary), but he managed to engineer a safe arrival and mother and baby are doing well.

What a super Christmas present – congratulations all round!

Ho ho ho, it’ s not magic

Less of a super Christmas present was a recent trip to Lapland that clients of ours had booked to give their children a holiday to remember.

It was an expensive exercise and the first time the children had been abroad, so expectations were running high and I had been as excited booking the trip for the family as they were.

Imagine my disappointment then, when they called me to say that the whole thing had been a wash out.

I appreciate that the operators are powerless to control nature and that when it fails to snow, a sleigh ride in the snow is all but impossible – but it wouldn’t take much imagination to come up with a contingency plan.

My clients told me that Lapland is feeling the effects of global warming and that instead of snow, they’d had continuous rain which had frozen to ice, making it hazardous to even walk in a winter wonderland.

With the brochure activities cancelled, our clients and sixty others fought for a place for their children on one of ten snow tubes.

The children, being children, soon forgot the lack of promised entertainment and looked forward to the sleigh ride through the forest to meet Father Christmas in his log cabin.

I can only guess at how they must have felt when, instead, they were taken by bus up Santa’s drive to his modern ‘Barratt-style’ brick house (my client’s description). As they said, they may as well have gone to a garden centre grotto at home at a fraction of the cost!

Thus did Christmas mystery become Christmas misery. Legal proceedings have started, though I understand the chap in the red suit will not be called as a witness.

May your own Christmas be merry and peaceful, wherever you are!

Maureen Hill works at Wessex World Travel, Gillingham, Dorset

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