A Day At The Airport

Dear readers, I am often asked by thoroughly seasoned globetrotters, how it is that Helmut and I stay so unflappable when it comes to undergoing the rigors of Air Travel. “How do you remain so calm, so dignified, so GROUNDED?” fellow travelers inquire. It IS a science, certainly, but one which can be mastered with a smattering of useful tips, and of course, practice.
Practice Pills For Airports

I am of the firm belief that at airports, one should make every effort to sail gracefully through Check-In, Passport Control and Security, and to be as accommodating as possible to the ground staff. Unfortunately, many of these same ground staff employees tend to be gaunt, anal-retentive types, who rarely afford us Silver Shirkers the same courtesy in return

Anal-Retentive Type


Oh Dear! Is Madam A Little Overweight?

It is a sad fact dear readers, that, in terms of baggage weight restrictions, the more budget-conscious the airline, the more nit-picky its staff. How then, can one avoid being at the mercy of a mealy-mouthed check-in assistant, who triumphantly declares a traveler’s suitcase to be one teensy nanogram overweight? And worseuses this flimsy excuse to force us Old Crocks to either lighten our suitcases on the spot, or suffer the outrage of being charged a hefty fine!

In our twilight travel years, the constant threat of having to cough up, for even the slightest weight infraction, has forced Helmut and I to give those check-in-cheapskates what they crave - a very public offloading of our suitcase contents. 

We have discovered that cramming the spare space in our coffers, with copious amounts of polystyrene ‘peanuts’ (those tiny, lightweight protective fillers used by the packing trade), is well worth the drama that ensues. Could it be because those minuscule styrofoam mischief-makers are apt to GUSH OUT haphazardly, in every direction, thus creating mayhem and a carpet of instant litter, throughout the entire check-in area? Yes!

Dear readers, such a satisfying outpouring of plastic rubbish from one’s suitcase is guaranteed to cause an equally satisfying outpouring of vulgar expressions from the check-in staff!

                                            “Sh**! B**ger! F**k!”


Passport Control

Original Passport Photo

Helga’s Handy Hint: When going through Passport Control, in order to avoid any discrepancies relating to one’s date of birth, eye colour, etc., do try to ensure that one is in EXACTLY the same advanced state of inebriation, as when one’s original passport photo was taken.

Current State Of Inebriation

Security Check

Hubby Helmut, a saint of a man, who would gladly sell you the shop-lifted shirt off his own back, admits there is no love lost between him and today’s overly zealous Airport Security Officer. I am referring, of course, to the mirthless employee who, after demanding that innocent, geriatric holidaymakers open up their carry-on luggage, proceeds (often without the reassuring barrier of fresh latex gloves) to snoop around in their private belongings, under the very public gaze of fellow travelers.

Dear readers, one should only agree to this type of search under protest, especially if it is conducted by those who relentlessly single out retirees by  delving willy-nilly into their carry-on luggage!

Say NO To Willy-Nilly Delving!

To follow, is a classic method Helmut and I employ, to irritate the increasing number of security staff member who deliberately profile pensioners. On the day of travel, we bury Helmut’s trusty nostril-hair clippers, deep within his carry-on – a devilish act, which sets off the metal detectors when his bag enters the X-ray machine. This alarm gives the nosy officer on duty or ‘old snoopy-drawers’, the right to open our luggage and search inside. But what horrors await this hapless individual, dear readers?

Horrors abound, because in Helmut’s Louis Vuitton carry-on bag, we Old Fossils have deliberately packed a sordid selection of intimate products for seniors. What is our preferred choice of embarrassing items?

Helmut and I can thoroughly recommend the following:

  • soft, padded products for ‘ultimate bladder control’
  • laxatives for retentive retirees
  • spare sets of dentures
  • disposable urinal or travel potty
  • large tube of hemorrhoid cream (plus applicator)
  • re-usable home colonic irrigation enema kit, complete with graphic safety instructions (in color).

Dear readers, if all goes well during the search, even the most weasel-like security officer will turn pale and break into a cold sweat. This is especially true if these same intimate items, or ‘Goodies for the Golden Years’, are placed on a bed of Helmut’s rancid, week-old socks and underwear. As this unfortunate officer discovers: Louis Vuitton carry-ons, are not be sniffed at!

Helmut’s Extra Smelly Socks & Underwear

Disarray achieved? Yes! Time, then, to move on to the next stage of our airport adventure – duty-free shopping. 

Cheerio, and Happy Holidaying, 

Helga x



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Helga and Helmut Have A Blast in Beirut


Dear readers, hubby Helmut and I are shaking with excitement, or could it be delirium tremors, as we are about to land at Rafic Hariri airport in Beirut, Lebanon. And who can blame us? Lebanon’s capital is a most marvelous and intoxicating city, and has been a hub of civilization for thousands of years. The ancient Romans loved it so much, in fact, that Berytus, as it was once called, became the preferred holiday destination of Julius Caesar’s son-in-law, General Pompey The Great, who added the city, along with the entire region, to the Roman Empire, in 64 BC.

Nowadays in Beirut, only a few scattered remnants can be found of this once mighty Empire.

The Empire Nowadays

For most Roman soldiers, Beirut was a popular overseas posting, with literally LEGIONS of them spending their free time skiing in the nearby mountains and skinny-dipping in the Mediterranean Sea – often on the same day, according to the archaeological brochures.

For those early Travelers in Togas, Beirut had a lot to offer, especially when it came to reconstructive surgery. Historians now believe that Pompey did not arrive on these shores as a conqueror, but as the first Cosmetic Tourist in antiquity. The General, we now know, was called ‘The Great’ because of a certain enlarged anatomical feature, which might possibly have been his nose.

Pompey Arrives In Beirut For A Consultation
“Veni, Vidi, Rhino-Plasti”


Nowadays, Beirut is well-established as the ‘Cosmetic Capital’ of the East. However, before laser surgery became popular, the city was more commonly known as the ‘Paris of the East’ because of its creative use of plaster.


Interestingly, there is a plethora of words one could use to describe the citizens of Beirut, but the following adjectives spring most readily to mind: charming, resourceful, well-educated, impatient. Did I mention they are also experts at multi-tasking? Despite our having taken FULL advantage of the in-flight drinks menu, Helmut and I still conscious enough to note that our airport taxi driver, Abdul, is hurtling through Beirut’s suburbs at break-neck speed, while simultaneously texting, drinking, smoking, ranting on about the price of petrol, and regaling us inebriated old fossils, with tales of his glorious past.

Abdul is typical of most Lebanese – he is able to rant in three different languages: Arabic, French and English. Unfortunately, Colour Blindness seems to be the evolutionary trade-off for this man’s, and indeed for this nation’s, superb linguistic skills, because en route to our hotel, Abdul, and every other Beirut driver, fail to stop at any red lights!

Left Image: How most drivers perceive traffic lights.                Right Image: How  Beirut drivers perceive traffic lights

The next morning, Helmut and I have red lights of our own to deal with, in the form of a hangover.


Dear readers, could Beirut be our very own Near-Eastern ‘Shangri-La’ – a fabled kingdom in which one barely ages? Yes! Because it’s hard to spot just ONE grey hair among Beirut’s senior citizens. Or even blue or purple hair. Or even NO hair. Hubby Hemut, who is folically-challenged, and who usually relies on a quick Comb-Over before going out, books a consultation to discuss a hair transplant, but somehow changes his mind when the trichologist proudly shows him a photo of a recent client.

Transplant Victim


On our first city walkabout, we notice that beautiful Beirut women – or ‘Beirutifuls’ as Helmut cleverly dubs them – are simply stunning, with lustrous, thick hair, and make-up to match. Hubby Helmut wistfully recalls the time when my hair too, was lustrous and thick. Fortunately these days, a well trained wax therapist and a heavy-duty dissolvent takes care of that little problem!

Former Lustrous Hair

Strolling in Beirut’s elegantly restored Downtown area, Helmut and I cannot believe the STAGGERING number of stylish women. Could they possibly be staggering because of their shoe choices? YES!  Sadly, these high heeled fashionistas, are badly poised to create an equally staggering number of well heeled podiatrists, chiropodists and orthopedic surgeons…






Next time: Lebanese Cuisine + Potholes. 








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Fundraising Tips For The Vacationally-Challenged.

Dear Readers, husband Helmut and I are often asked by friends, acquaintances and fellow inmates of Happy Meadows Rehab (when they are sober enough to even string a sentence together), how we are able to jet off so frequently to such exotic locations around the globe. “How the f*** do you do it?” they slur.

For old crocs like us, traveling has been a constant and reliable source of pleasure, but acquiring funds for our well deserved lifestyle-on-the-move, can sometimes prove tricky. This is especially true if one’s offspring are reluctant to cough up the expenses for business-class flights. Yes, dear readers, sadly this does happen, and I deal with this very issue, in a post from August, 2012 (http://www.hewdge.com/2012/08/5035/)

When, on the odd occasion, family members have been particularly parsimonious or ‘stingy gits‘ as Helmut prefers to call them, our entire neighborhood has been known to club together – all domestic disputes forgotten – to collect the money needed to see us swiftly on our way to sunnier climes! I do believe this noble gesture on the part of the local community, is the result of our ‘charm offensive’, although certain humorless types tend to use only one of those two words, when referring to Helmut.

Sadly, in this modern day era of vulgar materialism, one cannot always rely on community or kin to help find one’s ‘place in the sun’. Therefore, in this post, I have meticulously compiled three tried and tested methods of raising travel funds for the vacationally-challenged among us. Here they are, in no fixed order of preference. Enjoy!


Helmut ADORES insurance scams! Well, who doesn’t? Before every holiday, he stages one or two of the following ‘accidents’ : a)  kitchen flood   b)  car crash  c)  break-in

What makes our ‘accidents’ so convincing? Well, dear readers, it’s our attention to detail. For example, just before the flood/crash/break-in, we fill all the cupboards, wardrobes and filing cabinets throughout Happy Meadows, with copious amounts of fake blood, stage make-up, joke shop bandages, hosepipes, balaclavas and ‘hoodies’. This level of commitment to props perhaps gives you an insight into Helmut’s dogged determination to shaft the insurance companies. Not to harp on about one’s personal sacrifice, but this valuable cupboard space is usually meant for our ‘empties’.


Hubby Helmut is far too modest to admit that he’s rather good at this money-making scheme, but let’s be honest dear readers, keeping rooms or ‘padded suites’ as Helmut jokingly calls them, at Happy Meadows Rehab, does give one the inside scoop when it comes to personal and business secrets. How does our blackmail method work? Quite simply, we ply our fellow inmates or staff members with illicit alcohol, and with the aid of a board game (Truth or Dare) and a hidden recording device, pretend to be thoroughly SHOCKED the next day by their sordid confessions. Frankly, it’s a relief when they hand over their hush-money.


Impersonating one of your retired friends or family members in order to cash their pension cheque, while satisfying, is not hugely rewarding from a financial point of view. Nevertheless, in a cheap country such as Thailand, even a stolen UK pension can go a long way towards paying for that first round of Bubbly!

Cheers, and Happy Holidaying!

Helga & Helmut

Dear Readers, if you too, have any suggestions or advice regarding traveling the world at other people’s expense, please share your ideas by clicking below on REPLY.




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