Flying is a do-it-yourself job

Airport 2 telephone

Remember the good old days when you went to the travel agents and booked your flight, full of excitement and expectations, being given the ticket carefully contained in a little long voucher cover. You arrived at the airport, went to the desk where the nicely dressed lady (or man) was waiting to do all the examinations of the passport and the ticket. You put your luggage on the conveyer belt, it was weighed and disappeared to your plane. That was an adventure. You proceeded to the duty free shop to sit and wait until your boarding gate was called out and then you reached the plane. Yes, it was fun and everyone at the airport was doing all the work to get you there.

Today things have changed, you do it all yourself. It begins when you book the flight over the computer at home. No problem – choose the airport, the time of the flight and even your seat just by mouse click. Print out your ticket and you are almost there. Afterwards you do the same for the return journey, it could not be easier and now you wait until the day before the flight and if you did it all correctly you will get your boarding documents a day before the flight on your computer. If you did not do it correctly you will be told that there are still some details required, but the airlines are organised. You have a link, do it all again and the boarding documents arrive from the printer.

I flew to London a week ago and did it all from home.There is even a device on your smart phone where you can receive the magic bar code for the boarding pass which allows you to proceed thought the turnstiles by placing it on the little glass window, but for a golden oldie like me that is a little complicated, although I might try it one day. You arrive at the airport and show your boarding pass. For the unfortunates without a computer there are machines for printing the boarding pass, but you have to do it on your own. When i gave up my luggage at the airport I was asked for the tag to put on my case.

“I don’t have one” was my answer and I continued “do I have to print that as well?”

“Yes, it is new, but I can do it for you”. I did pass a remark that if things continue in this way the young lady will soon be out of a job. I almost asked if I have to do a pilot’s licence to fly the plane, but decided to keep quiet. You never know.

I proceeded to the take off lounge where I was invited to put my various bags and electronic equipment into bins which were x-rayed. In the meanwhile I walked through the searching arch and nothing peeped, so I was clean. I noticed the examiners threw a bottle of mineral water away that a fellow passenger victim was daring to take on the plane. Liquids are dangerous, they might explode – terrorists are everywhere. Eventually they let me on the plane.

A week later I arrived at London City Airport for the return journey, full of confidence. My boarding documents had arrived the day before on the computer, although I was advised, with full apologies, that the seat I wanted had been changed. I proceeded to the check-in and loaded my various bags into the tray. They went through the tunnel on the conveyer belt, but I noticed there was one of my bags missing. The young lady then appeared with the bag in her hand and pulled me to one side. I looked around but there were no police present. She looked at me with a disapproving look.

”You have a plastic toilet bag in this bag.”

“Yes, I do not pack my toiletries. If my case arrives at the wrong airport, at least I can have a wash and clean my teeth”. Perhaps it was not the time to make jokes, but i sort of gave her a friendly smile. It was then she began to unpack my various items. I noticed the suspicious look in her eyes when she pulled out my diabetes instruments, but she continued. It was then that it happened. She pulled out a tube of toothpaste, Swiss toothpaste.

“Is this your toothpaste?”


“The tube is too big.”

I did not realise there were various sizes. I felt ashamed that I had a king-sized tube of toothpaste.

“You cannot take this on the plane.”

“Then throw it away” I said, thinking it was some sort of airport joke.

The young lady threw it away, she confiscated my toothpaste. I proceeded to wait for the plane wondering what they did with all those toothpaste tubes, bottles of mineral water etc. etc. I learnt something. Never fly with toothpaste, it can be a danger to the plane.

Oh and to add, I did not have to print my baggage tag for the return journey. Apparently London City Airport is not so advanced as Zürich airport. The things you learn when flying to day. Yes, it is a do-it-yourself job.

Daily Prompt: Lazy Learner – Doing it the right way

Is there something you’ve always wanted to learn but haven’t gotten around to? What is it and what’s stopping you from mastering the skill?

Amthaus 1, Solothurn

You have never completed your training in life, there is always something you want to learn and even as a golden oldie I do not give up. I remember the time I wanted to learn Arabic. I had managed Russian for 12 years, so why not Arabic. There is a very good reason because I soon discovered that no-one really speaks Arabic, at leat not one single language, they all have their own dialects. The Gulf states speak the nearest to pure Arabic, but as soon a you move over to Algeria, Morocco and Egypt, the Maghreb states, you discover that although the language goes under the name of Arabic, they are all speaking in different dialects and eventually they have difficulties in understanding each other.

Eventually after a year I gave up and decided that Arabic was not my language. I could sort of write it until I discovered that there are two sorts of words, moon and sun. I eventually felt very sorry for Arabic children, wherever they were, having to learn the language, although I am not someone that usually gives up so easily.

And now to what it is all about. I have always wanted to learn how to complete a Swiss tax form, hence the photo of our local Amthaus 1, one of our official buildings in the town of Solothurn. We also have an Amthaus 2 which is a little more modern, but does not change the fact that Swiss tax forms become easier to complete.

When I entered this country of gnomes, fondue, chocolate and many languages I had no problem. Switzerland did not have so much trust in the foreigners and so my tax was deducted monthly from my earnings. After a year and meeting Mr. Swiss we got married and now it was all a man thing. I must admit I was too busy bringing up the family to concentrate on filling out tax forms and Mr. Swiss did not have time to cook, clean, launder or feed the kids, that was reserved for his week-ends and I was busy doing all the multi tasking.

One day we were both retired and I realised that in the month of March Mr. Swiss was not available for discussions about god and the world. He was online with our tax authorities. Now and again a profanity was uttered. The form was available in a computer programme, so what could possibly go wrong? We had also bought our own place in the meanwhile to complicate matters which needed more details. I realised that in the month of March the majority of Swiss citizens had only one topic of conversation, if they were available to talk. Of course you can give the problem to an office who will do it all for you, but that would cost money, and let’s face it, the fun is no longer there.

One day I realised that if Mr. Swiss was otherwise occupied (accident, disappeared, left the country etc. etc.) I would be left alone with this tax form. Of course I am computer literate, I realised I needed more and so I made an appointment with my tax advisor, Mr. Swiss, to learn how to do it. He decided the afternoon would be the best time for him. It was not the best time for me as I would be busy writing daily prompts, but you do everything to keep the man of your life happy, so I sacrificed an afternoon to learn how to do it. Now Mr. Swiss was never pedagogically inclined. He was more interested in showing what he could do, but not so much passing his knowledge on, which was a cue for the first disagreement. He was already talking about things on page 20 when I was still filling out the name and address. I persevered until we got to a point where he had to search and I was waiting and then said “I will have to check on that”. He checked and found the answer, decided it would be too difficult for a beginner like me and so he did it himself.

Since this memorable day about 2 years ago, it seems my learning curve was neglected. I do know where to find the forms on the computer, although he now has a new computer. We have now made an appointment for next year and I really will try to handle it. Otherwise, in a worst case situation. I have No. 2 son who lives on the other side of Switzerland, but now and again calls past. As he actually works for the Swiss government, he must know how to do it, otherwise perhaps he can use his connections with the Ministry.

Oh the fun of filling out a Swiss tax form.

Daily Prompt: Lazy Learner – doing it the right way

Glorious Break

Dad's 100th Birthday

I often have a feeling that the topic generator is psychic, mystical, some sort of a link to my writing. Today I got a glorious break, after a week away from the computer, prompts, writing and everything. I was offline spending a week in London to celebrate with my dad his 100th birthday and here is one of the photos. Dad and me in his apartment with balloon and enjoying the day.

He lives in an extra care home, has his own four walls with kitchen bathroom, bedroom and living room and is so well looked after that I can relax. I live in Switzerland, he lives in England. Our normal contact is by phone and once a year when I visit him, usually around 24th September when it is his birthday.

This year was a special birthday, he was 100 years old. He can no longer walk so well, usually has the support of a Zimmer frame and if he has further to go someone takes him in a wheelchair. There are a few apartments where he is, all elderly residents, and once a week there is a special traditional english dinner for those that want to participate and twice a week in the afternoon a lotto game.

I arrived at my dad’s place on his birthday to discover that the local newspaper were already there taking photos. Today it was in the newspaper so being so proud of my dad here is the link to the article

Dagenham Post – Dad’s Birthday

I think that covers most of the main events in his long life. He would tell me stories of his war service, of his early days. His taste of jazz from the 20’s and 30’s was my musical background. Of course the highlight of the morning was when the postman called with the telegram from Queen Elizabeth. It is a custom in England, but as she does not know personally when all her subjects have their 100th birthday you must organise it. In my dad’s case he had a visit from the local government who took all the particulars. My dad is a real special case. He never had a big thing about the Queen, she was just there, but when the card arrived he was really excited. I noticed he was looking at it now and again and re-reading it with the comments “I wonder if she sends a lot of those cards?” etc. etc. He also got a card from the British government minister of pensions, although no-one is really a fan of his, so that was put on one side, although I must say it was a nice card with a view of Tower Bridge.

He had visitors all through the day and in the afternoon the home where he lives had organised food and drink and a birthday cake and there was a little party for him in the main hall. The great thing was that although my dad is the oldest where he is living his memories of the early days are also the memories of his co-inhabitants, so there was no lack of conversation.

Dad's 100th Birthday

When I left him in the evening he was tired, but very happy and probably looking forwards to his Lotto match the next day in the afternoon.

Yes it was more than a glorious break and dad still wonders how he got there.

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Daily Prompt: Life’s a Sweet Shop – it was too long ago

You get to be a 6-year-old kid again for one day and one day only — plan your perfect 24 hours. Where do you go, what do you do, and with whom?


Caramel desert with whipped cream would definitely not been available. It would probably have been a cake either made by mum or a bought cake at the bakers. I do not really want to be a 6 year old kid again and don’t forget sweet rationing in England after the war only ended in 1953, so probably there was not a lot of choice to celebrate with sweets and cakes at the time. Sugar was rationed and diary products. I remember when mum went to the grocers she had a book and they would make a mark to show how much she had bought and how much there was left for the week. London was in a half ruined state and my playgrounds were the bombed out houses.

I am not even sure if there was anything I wanted to do in my perfect 24 hours. I was not at the TV age, we did not have one, as most people at the time. I really had to look in Aunty Internet and discovered that in 1952 we had the great smog of London, so yes, I do have a memory of walking through a thick yellow mist to school. If I had carried a knife with me, I could have cut pieces out of the smog, it was so solid. It was London at the time when air pollution was only a subject for the newspapers, and you just had to get on with it. We were all burning our fires for warmth at home with coal. Today we are all very clinical with our electricity and gas.

I remember when I arrived at school and perhaps did a nose blow in a handkerchief to be confronted with black sooty particles in the handkerchief. I dread to think what my lungs contained, so it really did not make a great difference when I began to smoke at the age of 16. The damage had already been done at the age of 6.

We did not really have a lot of money. Dad worked for his living and I believe at the time it was when he was working in the Kensitas cigarette factory in Old Street in London, so my life seemed to have been in a cloud of smoke. A perfect 24 hours would not come into the question at the age of 6 and I cannot remember having dreams of going places and doing things. Mum would have done her best to organise a nice tea and perhaps some of my friends might have been invited.

I just discovered that 6th December 1952 was a Saturday, so I did not have to go to school. Who knows perhaps a day up to London and feeding the pigeons in Trafalgar Square could have been included, although the poor pigeons probably had woolly scarves around their necks and were coughing away in the foggy air. To be realistic, it was no great spectacular day and money and opportunity were not there to have endless fun.

Daily Prompt: Life’s a Sweet Shop – it was too long ago

I am Back

London 2015

I arrived back home this evening after spending a week in London celebrating dad’s 100th birthday. The photo is fresh from the camera taken at Zürich airport. I will be back – is that a threat or a promise? I hope to be prompting, blogging and writing again tomorrow, but today I am too tired with all the travel.

Daily prompt: Home Turf – See you again in a week

Name five things in your house that make it a home.

light effects on the stone floor

All I can manage is a photo of our floor in the living room, with light reflections, which continues through the apartment including the hall and kitchen.

Today we had to have our little cat, Fluffy put to sleep at the vets. There was no more hope, his kidneys were no longer working properly and everything was going downwards. He had a very strong infection after his operation. I will explain more when I return. We will miss him.

I am actually now saying goodbye until next week and tomorrow I am flying off to London to see my dad. Today has been very hectic, sorting stuff in England and packing all I am taking with me. I will not have an opportunity to use a computer next week, so I will be totally offline for all.

Daily Prompt: Home Turf – See you again in a week

Yellow File


“Bring me the yellow file.”


“At once Miss Goodenough.”

“I thought you said that..”

“What I said is no longer of significance. We all say things and regret them afterwards.”

“Yes sir.”

“Hey Julie where are you going in such a hurry?”

“Sir John told me to fetch the yellow file.”

“Oh no, it is not going to start again. After he caught the five Mesopotamian spies stealing the secret files of Hamshi, I thought it had all stopped.”

“So did I Nigel, but you can never know what the head of the Department 10th column will do. After all he is something special. Even the Queen trusts him with the toilet roll supplies.”

“Miss Goodenough, where is that yellow file, I am waiting.”

“Sorry Nigel. I must go, although I do have a problem.”

“I know Julie, you cannot remember where you put it.”

“Oh yes I can, otherwise I would not be the personal assistant to Sir John Honeycomb. He said to make sure that it would never been seen again. There are too many personal secrets involved and so I put it in room 7.”


“I know, do you think you could help me?”

“If I had known I would have dressed in something more casual, like my overall, but luckily I have my gardening gloves. The are a good protection against the barbed wire.”

So they both went to Room 7 in the cellar to retrieve the Yellow File. It was on the top shelf, surrounded by the wire, but luckily Nigel also brought his wire cutters with him. He climbed carefully up the ladder and whilst Julie Goodenough held him firmly on the legs to ensure he would not lose his balance, he cut through the wire.

“Oh Nigel, you are so good. You have retrieved the yellow file.”

The hugged each other and regretfully had to return to the main building, although they would have liked to have savoured the moment of discovery more intensively. It was then that Nigel suggested meeting in room 20 after work which had a wonderful view of the skyline of Whitehall.

“Sir I have it.”

“Well done Miss Goodenough, I will recommend you for a special honour at the end of the year. Perhaps Dame of the Yellow File” and she noticed a sly smirk on Sir John’s face. “You may now return to what you were doing, but bring me first of all a red file before you go.”

“Yes sir, of course.”

“What’s he doing now Julie?”

“He is removing all the documents from the yellow file and putting them in the red file.”

“It seems he has reached a decision.”

“Yes Nigel, I think it is now completely finished with the nicotine addiction. I remember when he smoked his last cigarette a year ago. The file had become completely yellow from the smoke and he told me to put it away before he lit another one. Now he has at last thrown the yellow file into the garbage.”

“What an achievement Julie. And now let’s go to room 20, it is already time.”

What Nigel and Julie did in room 20 is private, so we will not go into details. Sir John left the office and went immediately to the local tobacconists to indulge in one of his pleasurable vices. He was now smoking Siglio VI cigars, the best from Havana. Admittedly they were more expensive than cigarettes, but at least the files did not turn yellow.

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Daily Prompt: I’ve become my parents – No thankyou

Do you ever find yourself doing something your parents used to do when you were a kid, despite the fact you hated it back then?

Bee in sedum

I had no real inspiration to do this prompt. I have written so much about my renegade spirit in growing up that it is even boring me. This bee in my photo is doing what its mum and dad did, and what generations of bees have been doing, gathering pollen. Does the bee know why? Probably something called instinct, which is a useful word when you do not really know the answer.

i have never found myself doing what my parents used to do when I was a kid, because I always had the intention of not doing what they did when I was a kid. Now that’s a short answer, but you see I live in the 21st century and things have changed a little since 1946 when I was born. In 1946 Europe was recovering from a war to end all wars, but it was not, and wars continue. In those days people from oppressed countries fled to other countries, adopted their life style and stayed there. Today they are fleeing again and no-one knows how to react, how to deal with the situation because the oppression is universal and we all have different opinions. It seems that half the world in moving and at the moment Europe has reached its limits.

My main problem today is that Windows might decide to update my Windows 7 computer to Windows 10 all on their own without asking me first. I got the permission to do it about a month ago, but decided to wait, no rush. Now I read that Windows 10 has become an independent programme and is doing it all on their own. Proof: Mr. Swiss updated his new little computer to Windows 10 a couple of weeks ago. Everything is fine it worked and it was a new computer. Today his main computer, which is about a year old, running on Windows 8.1, has gone independent. It did not ask for permission, but is now merrily downloading a programme which Mr. Swiss did not yet want on that computer. I read some accounts of this in Internet.

Perhaps my windows 7 machine might also decide to become Windows 10. I hope not because on Monday evening I am awaiting my documents from the Swiss airline by mail to get me through the barriers at the airports. You know you now have to do it all by yourself. At one time there was a nicely dressed stewardess at a desk that would prepare it all for you. If Windows decide to overtake my computer when this important document is to be printed then I will not be a happy bunny. There is also a problem that the built in photo programme on Windows 10 is definitely not to my liking.

So parents, you did it OK as far as you were concerned. It’s my turn now and it will soon be the turn of my children. I wonder what they will write in ten years on this theme. Perhaps they then have windows 20 to deal with and their kids will be showing them how to do it.

Daily Prompt: I’ve become my parents – No thankyou

Obedient Bite


“Look Vlad, Draven has arrived home. Oh look at you, what a big boy you have become.”

“Rubbish Morticia, vampires do not grow older or big, we remain as we were bitten, but I must say he has a very nice pale complexion, and your teeth have grown to a wonderful shape. Grandfather Cosimo would be proud of you, had they not pierced him with a wooden stake. How was school?”

“Oh, great dad, we learnt a lot. Look how I can fly.”

“Wonderful, but looping the loop is not very elegant as a vampire. And how did your biting lessons go.”

“Great dad, I can show you.”

“Draven we have no suitable flesh samples to try it out on.”

“Oh mum, we don’t bite flesh. Most of us are vegan or vegetarian so we are given an apple, like the one in the dish here. Look.”

“Just a minute Draven. Your mother and I did not send you to the best institute in Transylvannia to learn how to bite a piece of apple.”

“It’s all the rage dad. Our teacher,Mephistofolo said in our Obedient Bite Class that drinking blood was no longer so healthy. There are too many living specimens that take drugs, drink alcohol and do not take care of their health. It is safer to bite into a piece of fruit.”

“And you can survive on fruit Dravy.”

“Of course mum it is just a matter of getting used to it. Look.”

“Well I must say Dravy, that is a very nice bite: clean and sharp, yes I am very proud of you.”

“And I got best marks in my final exam. Mephistofolo said I could have my own coven of vampires eventually. We have even learnt how to plant apple trees.”

“Err son, I am not sure if you are on the right track. In my time the best vampires were those that collected the most blood groups. Look, here are my blood badges. We did not plant apple trees, they did not grow so well in the cemetery.”

“Oh, dad, that is so old fashioned. No vampire drinks blood these days, at least not from humans on the street. Mephistofolo said that if we really feel the desire, then we should fly through an open window at the local blood bank and take a few of those plastic pouches. We have even learnt to drink the blood through a straw.”

“Vlad, we can really be proud of our son.”

“I am not so sure Morticia, our family was more into blood farming than apple farming. It was tradition.”

“Oh, come on mum and dad, you have to go with the times. By the way I have a girlfriend.”

“A girlfriend. What vampire family does she belong to son?”

“She is in the Smith family dad.”

“I have never heard of a vampire coven with the name of Smith.”

“Oh, she isn’t in a coven, yet. I happened to meet her one evening in the local hamburger bar. The full moon was shining brightly and we shared our hamburger. She was one of those british tourists in Transylvania wanting to sample the real taste of Carpathian life.”

“And so?”

“We both tasted it together, that’s why she is the first Smith with long teeth, but she can eat apples as well.”

“Vlad, Vlad.”

“What’s the matter with him mum?”

“I think he has fainted.”

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Daily Prompt: Take Me to the Moon – Been there, seen it and done it

How far would you go for someone you love? How far would you want someone else to go for you? 

First of all here I am on the right at my son’s wedding in Germany last mont, not on the moon. Yes, I have at last got the official wedding photos. I am on the right.

Official Wedding photosIf you are wondering where Mrs. Angloswiss wedding photos are, they do not really exist. It was almost a shotgun wedding. We arrived at the registry office and half an hour later I was married after signing on the dotted line. It suited me and it we are still stuck with each other, for better or worse. We don’t do declarations of eternal love on blogging sites, it goes without saying.

Ask me today and I would say I would not go any distance. I found my love of a lifetime and why should I travel further. The question is really now overhauled at the age of 69 and after 46 years of married life.

Admittedly I did go a long way to find him, but that was a side dish. I knew I did not want to stay where I was and so took the opportunity to see a little of the surrounding countries, although I only got as far as Switzerland, which was a hop over the English channel and a train journey through France.

I could have stayed where I was in London. Of course, now and again I met the man of my future life, but he was perhaps not of the same opinion, and probably it would not have worked out. When you are young you have all sorts of expectations. Where did I find the man in the moon? In the same office where I was working in Switzerland, although it took almost a year to discover that we had found each other. So what did we do about it? We got together in December, got married in February and in the next September I had a ready made family of two children, plus my own contribution. I must have been a sucker for punishment as five years later No. 4 arrived and there I was changing diapers in between, accompanying the offspring to school, cooking, washing, ironing – just the whole enchilada. I often wonder if I was worth an entry in the Guiness Book of records.

I am glad I did not have to go to the moon for that adventure, I would not have had the time and it would have cost too much. The question is now “Would you do it all over again?” With the same man yes definitely. I did not ask him the same question – he does not blog, just reads my attempts and passes his comments.
On Tuesday next week I am travelling again, this time to London. I see my dad once a year, usually in Autumn around his birthday. This year he will be 100 years old on 24th September, so I will be there to celebrated with him. The queen is also invited. I heard she is otherwise occupied, but it seems she will be sending him a telegram, it has all been organised. He is the oldest member of the extra care home where he lives in his own apartment, which is not really astonishing and it might even be that the Lord Mayor of Dagenham, where he is living, will call in to say “hello”.

I have heard reports on a spam newspaper on Facebook that the end of the world, due to a meteor strike, is programmed for next week. The english national newspaper, The Daily Mirror, also brought a report and today Facebook tells me that are extraordinary luminous clouds over Costa Rica. On the other hand I am at ease at the NASA said if there was a meteor on its way with 10 Km diameter, we would already have seen it coming, and why worry as long as we have Bruce Willis to save the planet.

See you all on the flip side, if the comet does not decide to make a surprise appearance today.

Daily Prompt: Take Me to the Moon – Been there, seen it and done it