Bring on the breakfast buffet

The breakfast-included help-yourself buffet - the best thing about hotels. Pictue: GETTY IMAGES/STO

The breakfast-included help-yourself buffet - the best thing about hotels. Pictue: GETTY IMAGES/STOCKPHOTO - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Lynne may have a bad back but it won’t stop her lunging for the best fried egg

It really shouldn’t have been a problem. After all, I have been dressing myself since I was four.

I got out of the shower, as usual; dried myself, applied deodorant, brushed my hair, put on my bra (yes, I sometimes wear one), knickers and socks... not a good look so far but I’m about to apply the top coat. Next I put on my orange jumper and it was just the black trousers to go.

Right leg in, left leg... and ooof, something went in my back and I was stuck with one leg trousered, the other foot halfway down a trouser leg, and in great pain.

I tried to find a way to move without intensifying the agony. No, an inch in any direction was torment. Eventually I managed to extricate myself from my trousers and, assuming a zombie-like stance, I managed to get out of the bedroom and down the stairs, where my husband was hugely sympathetic.

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“You’ll need to put my trousers on for me,” I winced.

“They won’t suit me.”

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But he did help, gently feeding my legs into my trousers.

Now I was dressed, the next challenge was to reach out and pick up my cup of tea from the side table.

I fully expected to be better within a day but the following morning my back had seized up and I couldn’t bend down in the shower to grab the shampoo. I had to exit the shower cubicle and lean in, supporting myself on a door handle, and scoop up the bottle and then get back in the shower.

It is slowly improving. I wondered if I’d caught a chill at Bletchley Park.

On my birthday, in February, my daughter gave me a hand-crafted voucher for a weekend away with her at a place of my choice. I chose Bletchley Park, the top secret Second World War facility where enemy codes were cracked. If you’re wondering how come I know about it, it’s not as top secret as it used to be. It’s like the nuclear bunker in Kelvedon, Essex, which is signposted “secret bunker”.

Ruth and I spent a whole day at Bletchley. We went on the outdoor guided tour in the rain and then, as the rain eased off, we looked inside the mansion and the huts where the brilliant minds of specially-recruited men and women decoded and translated enemy communications.

Around the lake at the heart of the site, loudspeakers played the sounds of the people who worked here; laughter and chatter. It is as if you walk with the ghosts of Bletchley. So secret was the work that the people on site didn’t even speak to each other about what they were doing. We were told the story of one woman who thought she was regularly phoning information through to London but, in fact, she was talking to someone in a neighbouring hut, a few yards away.

One of the star turns was the recreated Bombe, a decoding machine built from original materials and with its original dangers, one of which was the high probability of touching a live wire and getting electrocuted.

But that’s enough about Bletchley, except to say: go there if you can. What I really wanted to talk about was buffet breakfasts.

The hotel Ruth and I stayed at had pastries, continental cheeses, yoghurts, fresh fruit, artisan bread, Tiptree jams, juice and an array of full English breakfast components - bacon, sausages, hash browns (though not strictly English), mushrooms, tomatoes, vegetarian sausages, fried eggs, scrambled eggs and black pudding.

On day one, people tend to be measured in their selection but by day two they have gone native. All hell breaks loose. One chap ? and I am not exaggerating ? had a small replica of Mount Fuji made from baked beans on his plate. I’m just glad I didn’t have to share a room with him. Someone else went with a stack of hash browns and umpteen slices of black pudding. Obviously a fan of geometry.

A serve-yourself buffet calls out to one’s inner hungry person. A few years back we stopped off at a roadside inn where there was a help-yourself roast lunch. One chap put so much on his plate that three of his six Yorkshire puddings fell on the floor.

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