I know how to treat the birthday girl ...
ALL this weather we've been having is enough to make you rush to the sun.
Lots of people have been doing it, apparently. Fed up of freezing conditions, they have been booking last minute Easter holiday breaks abroad to any destination where you don't need the central heating turned up to full and three layers of sweaters.
How can they afford it? One survey suggests Brits are this year turning to payday loans to fund their holidays. These are companies that lend cash at interest rates to make the eyes water on loans that could bring short-term happiness and long-term misery.
Mind you, when desperation sets in. And all this snow gets everybody down. At least digging it keeps you warm. The next door neighbours and I dug out the road outside our houses and piled the snow on the front lawn. The mound was so high and solid it looked like Clifford's Tower at York.
A few embrasures and a strategically placed cannon and we could be impregnable. Until it thaws. So we should be safe until at least August. My wife Maria and I couldn't go abroad if we wanted to. Any spare cash is spent on visiting our elder daughter and her husband and our grandchildren in Ireland and that's as cold as it is here. Besides, they are coming to us for Easter week so it wouldn't look so good if they found a note on the door saying: Key under the mat. Gone to Benidorm. Of course, travel advisers have been suggesting Cyprus is the place to go if you want a late bargain, as long as you enjoy Greek tragedy. Somehow I don't think I would be comfortable sitting at a bar in the sun counting my newly minted Euros while the locals demonstrate about the closure of their banks, the theft of their savings and the onset of financial gloom for years to come.
The wailing and gnashing of teeth would put me off my dinner. We will actually be sneaking off for a short weekend. Well, just for the Saturday night. It's to mark the occasion of Maria's 65th birthday. Please don't tell anyone how old she is because you know how sensitive ladies can be about their age. We thought it best to celebrate away from home so our offspring will not hear Maria wailing and gnashing her teeth at how quickly those youthful days are left behind. Ageing does not have a lot going for it, when all is said and done. It sneaks up on you like Lewis Hamilton.
So we are heading for a nice hotel in that glamour spot of Altrincham, the area in which I grew up, for a spot of clothes shopping, a couple of drinks, a curry and a romantic night together. I know how to treat a girl.
What is a little galling is that I have just had an email offering me seven days in Kos next month for about the same price. Greece in spring, temperatures pushing 70 degrees Fahrenheit, flights and apartment included for PS139. Then our cousin Suzanne, who lives near Malaga, phoned and said it was 76 degrees there. Why don't you come out for a few days? Shame I'd already booked. Anyway, Maria is not one for beach holidays or excessive sunshine. Those are a distant memory like so much else. I think she'll prefer Altrincham. As long as the hotel's central heating is turned up full and we wear three sweaters apiece.
| BIRTHDAY GIRL: Maria, when we enjoyed beach holidays.