Maureen Hill is a regular columnist for Travel Weekly and works at Wessex World Travel, Gillingham, DorsetIt’s two for Wendy Wu

Astronomical forward planning is the preoccupation of a client of mine who wanted to advance register for Wendy Wu Tours’ total solar eclipse trip next July.

Personally, I find this desire not to see the sun rather at odds with my role as an agent; after all, most people come in to buy direct access to the big, flaming ball in the sky, but perhaps I’m old-fashioned.

Anyway, it turns out there are hundreds of people already revving up for the eclipse, which will occur on July 22 2009 and be visible across Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific. According to my client, it’s going to last ‘a good six minutes-plus’.

“It’ll be the longest eclipse for over a century,” he said. I’m afraid I didn’t respond with an adequate amount of enthusiasm. I can’t get worked up about these sorts of phenomena. Frankly, six minutes in which I can’t get anything done because the lights have gone out are a waste of time in my book.

Subsequently, however, it occurred to me that it would be a perfect excuse to spend a lot of money on a swanky pair of sunglasses, so that might make the whole exercise more worthwhile.

Sue Copper of Wendy Wu Tours said stargazers and astronomers worldwide are booking in bulk, so my client is right to take action now.

It was great to chat to Sue, who told me there was a whole lot of jubilation going down at Wendy Wu, this week as Wendy has just given birth to non-identical twin boys, Alexander and Warren. Now that is a natural phenomenon I’ll happily celebrate! The boys weighed in at five-and-a-half pounds and six pounds to the delight of Wendy and her husband Jonathan.

Wendy’s proud parents have flown in from Shanghai to help with the babies. Sue explained that they speak no English whatsoever, so they were having problems.

“But I don’t understand,” I said, puzzled, “it doesn’t matter what language you speak to babies in.”

“Maureen,” said Sue, “the problem isn’t speaking to the babies, it’s speaking to everyone else!”

I don’t know. Maybe I’ve been staring at the sun too long…


Trouser trouble

The more I hear about what goes on among our older clients when they’re on holiday, the more anxious I become about booking their trips. The following is a cautionary tale about the perils of a geriatric wardrobe malfunction on a Unicorn coach holiday, as told to me by managing director Colin Hornsey.
“The lady saw her friends laughing uncontrollably. The reason became apparent as she looked down to see her partner’s trousers falling down.”


The group travelling comprised several married couples, six single women and one single man, who clearly relished the environment.

The party was staying at a hotel in Torquay where dancing was the entertainment one warm evening. The old boy, in his 70s, had taken a shine to one of the ladies and asked her to dance.

The pair made their way to the floor where he slipped his arm around her and began a slow waltz. As they began to dance, the lady saw her friends laughing uncontrollably. The source of their mirth became apparent as she looked down to see her partner’s trousers falling down.

The old boy was also aware of the problem and, in an effort not to expose himself, pushed against his partner in a bid to keep the trousers from falling any further. This pelvic intrusion was most unwelcome for the lady, who gestured to Colin for help.

Colin dashed to the kitchen for some string and hastened to the dance floor where, by this time, the woman was clutching the old chap’s trousers by the flies. In a deft move Colin tied the string around the man’s waist without the couple putting a step out of place.

The following day, while the poor woman recovered from her ordeal, her friends went shopping and returned with a pair of braces for her dancing partner, lest such a catastrophe should occur again.

At the end of the holiday, the woman asked Colin to advise her of the presence of ‘that odious man’ on any future tours as she’d do her best to avoid him, while the ‘odious man’ asked if Colin could let him know which tours ‘that gorgeous girl’ would be on as he’d like to get to know her better!

Will men ever learn?

Maureen Hill works at Travel Angels, Gillingham, Dorset