The kids have gone back to school, the leaves are turning brown, the telly had got good. It can only mean one thing. It’s time for the Fenners’ Summer holiday! Yep, myself and Karen have two weeks exploring the delights of Italy. We have a week in Naples as a city break and then we take the ferry over to Scilly for a relaxing week in a villa in the Scillian countryside.

Unlike our usual jaunts, we had very respectable flight times. A late afternoon flight out and a mid morning one back. That meaning no getting up in the middle of the night, but actually sitting watching Saturday Kitchen thinking “Tonight we’ll be going to bed in Naples”. Bit weird, but very nice at the same time.

In fact, such was the novelty of a 4:00 pm flight that we decided to stop en route and get a bit of lunch before we hit the airport. I say a bite, I actually mean a plate loaded high with random foods. No, we didn’t, go the World Buffet (we aren’t heathens) but the next thing down, a Toby Carvery. Carveries get a a bad deal as they often conjure up ideas of veg which has been left for hours under heat lamps. I like to think of them as all the best bits of a Sunday Roast without the tricky problem of deciding which meat to have. Just have them all! Admittedly they could be improved; with you only having one plate you do end up up with mustard on your lamb and apple sauce on your beef. Perhaps a system of small plates would be better so you could have a little lamb lunch, then a little turkey dinner and so on. A sort of Tapas Carvery (copyright Andrew Fenner 2019).

Any hoo, we gorged, and then it was time to pay. Carveries aren’t really known as being particularly intensive on the waiting staff; you carry your plate to the server, they serve you and you carry it back. You even refill your own drink. So the staff basically sit you, bring you an empty glass and at the end of the meal, they bring you the bill. Our waitress was, in a funny kind of a way, trying to negate the last part of this act. When we were finished, she asked if we had the app. We both did, but had never used it. In fact, my iPhone had removed it due to lack of use. She encouraged us to redownload it as we may get a five pound off voucher. What followed was a complicated process of QR codes being scanned, emails being sent, text messages received until eventually we had five pounds knocked off the bill. She then told us that if we left a review, we could get a free ice cream, so Karen dutifully filled in a glowing report and sent it off. (FYI if you want to avoid dried up veg at a Carvery, go with someone who is dairy intolerant. They usually cook the veg in butter but will happily steam some new ones for you. Bingo. Fresh veg. Karen did of course put all this in her review).

By this point, time was pressing on and we really needed to leave and get on to the airport. We had managed to reduce the bill, but not actually pay it yet. Plus, we still hadn’t received any ice cream. The problem was she was now on a mission with a family of 6 to get them to do the same thing. I was starting to think that my opinion was more trouble than it was worth. 10 minutes later she came back, I speed ate my ice cream, gave myself an ice cream headache and then dashed out.

As per usual, I was worrying about nothing. We parked up at 1:45 and were through security by 2:00! When we left the bag drop, there was one of those opinion devices where you tapped a range of faces from smiley through to angry to rate your “experience of baggage drop”. I decided to ignore it in case it led to further delays.

Security was the quietest I had ever seen it. The security guard was literally leaning on the X Ray machine waiting for us to snake our way through the barriers to meet him (why do they insist on making you do that when it’s empty?). 1 minute later and we were through. (They did seem to be frisking a young lady in the tightest pair of jeans I have ever seen, and strappy vest. Seriously, if she was smuggling anything it was internal. Perhaps that is why they were scanning her.) As we left, there was another smiley face machine. Karen tapped the happiest face. And so it continued.

When we were looking at the departures board we were asked to rate our experience (what of? Looking?). I went to the toilet and I was asked to rate my experience. (Bit personal that one. I’m going more often then I’d like, but I have turned 50 recently so apparently you have to expect that. Oh hold on, it was asking after the cleanliness of the toilets wasn’t it? Oops.)

Once on the plane we were mercifully free of people wanting my opinion. When I arrived in Italy, the first port of call was il bagno (the toilet. See above paragraph for the reason and also, I don’t do aeroplane toilets). You’ve guessed it, the dreaded smiley faces were here to greet me. (Lovely toilets. Very Italian; stylish, just lacking a toilet seat.)

We eventually got to our accomodation and once connected to the internet I checked my emails. The first one that came through was from EasyJet…asking me my opinion on the flight.

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