Surprisingly, we stayed in a hotel which not only entertained the idea of smoking rooms, but also actually provided one in line with my online request. Sadly, although when staying on the continent you can be pretty certain your wishes will be met, I can't remember the last time I managed to get one in the UK. It doesn't matter too much, as I'm buggered if I'm going to jump in the lift in my jim-jams, and trot down to stand at the front of the building, if I fancy a smoke with the in-room tea-making facilities ... unless they ban windows or install CCTV in the guest bedrooms, of course.
I'm not remotely alone either, so if you're a nutty anti-smoker I'm sorry to bust your bubble ... your pristine room will have seen some smoking activity before your precious body entered it.
It's also interesting to note that the chambermaids were able to clean our room without dropping dead, while it's apparently too dangerous (according to deranged anti-tobacco loons) for pub staff to do the same for separate smoking rooms in pubs even if well ventilated.
It's been a bastard of a drive back - the M3 was being particularly spiteful - but a couple of stories led me to the keyboard.
Firstly, it was very sad to hear of true legend Alex Higgins's passing, but also quite encouraging that those who knew him are sending him off in the correct manner.
Despite squandering his snooker winnings in a life blighted by drink and gambling, friends were adamant that Higgins would be given a proper send off. Some £10,000 raised to help Higgins receive medical treatment prior to his death will go towards his funeral, it was revealed.The more usual response, of course, for the estate of those who succumb to cancer, is to give money to an organisation which increased its income by 5% to £498m last year. Considering that, in its 108 years of existence, there has been an increase in cancer deaths from 10% to over 40% (page 10), and that any such money not only starves local charities of funds but also doesn't make much of a dent in the salaries of the 23 employees who earn from £100k to £260k (up from 20 last year - page 37), such donations are pretty useless.
So good on Alex's folks for using that money to treat those who loved and cared for him instead.
Secondly, via Iain Dale, I understand that Somerset apparently has speed cameras.
The camera networks in Devon and Cornwall, Somerset and Northamptonshire are also under review after the government’s decision to claw back £38m from English local authorities’ 2010-11 road safety budget of £95m, and to remove funding for new speed cameras.I can't say I encountered even one! In fact, the SatNav beeped on my way out on Friday somewhere near Bracknell and didn't mither me again till returning on the A303 in Wiltshire ... after which it barely stopped.
Great that the bloody things are being restricted to roads that are proper blackspots, though, as the only consequence of them on dual carriageways and the like is to cause drivers to over-compensate to unnecessarily slow speeds which can sometimes be a danger in itself. And I'm allowed to comment as, unlike Dale, I haven't had points on my licence for 15 years.
Finally, if you live in the South West, you don't half have some cheek charging so much for the cheese and fudge that Mrs P just had to buy. Bastards.