Are you a single lady or man of a certain age, or any age come to think of it, who sometimes travels solo? I am currently in Napier, New Zealand, hopping over from Australia for a brief holiday with the sole aim of renewing my Aussie visa and to visit two towns I haven't managed to see on previous visits. So Napier, after Wellington, was high on my list because it's an Art Deco town, completely re-built after the 1931 Earthquake, with stunning buildings everywhere. When the sun comes out. But I digress. My rant today is..... why does the world behave as if we are all walking two by two in happy coupledom when the number of singletons is becoming more and more the majority but treated more and more like the minority and the odd ones out.... ........
Never has there been more of an outcry about single supplements for single hotel rooms and package holidays. (Although it appears to be improving as our numbers swell.) Never have there been more singles travelling the world. (More than a third of UK holiday makers are single) Especially Baby Boomers like me. And never have there been more single households in Britain than now. Yet, we are still treated like an oddity & nowhere more so, in my opinion, than dining alone!
I am on my own here in Napier for four days, staying at the Art Deco Masonic Hotel rather than self-catering for such a short time. I am in a tourist town full of middle-aged & elderly couples. I haven't seen any singles. Not one. It's not like France or, indeed, Byron Bay, where you see single ladies everywhere enjoying a glass of bubbly and a snack on their own.
I have friends here, who I will meet up with later in the week, but for the time being, because the weather's grim, I am happily shopping, sightseeing and catching up on movies I want to see before the Oscars. Alone. Happily. However, this evening, after a spectacular meal of pulled lamb (sorry vegetarians) in the hotel's Emporium Eatery & Bar I have to share with you how fed up I am with the ridiculous habit of the swift removal of the 2nd place setting at the table opposite you because you are ALL ON YOUR OWN! It's not just here, it's all over the world and I want it to stop!
I haven't experienced such a dramatic removal of my invisible guests' cutlery in a long time. But what I really objected to this evening was that I had told the waitress I would like to order a local red wine to go with the lamb. The lamb arrived and was cold by the time I had attracted the attention of the manager to get a lovely glass of red wine to go with the remaining half of the dish. Then another young waitress came over, after I had completely finished my meal, asked me if everything was ok (a tad late, I fear) and then asked me if anyone was joining me, AT THE END OF MY MEAL! She then, with a flourish, removed the second setting opposite me when I replied in the negative. Nice!
The whole point of this rant is.......surely bringing the wine with the meal is far more important than removing a spare setting? Where was she when I wanted to order an expensive glass of red wine? And WHY is the removal of the empty place at the table so important?
Suppose I had just lost my husband, suppose I was feeling really lonely and insecure, suppose my partner had stood me up or we had had a row.........suppose, suppose....... I think it is ridiculous that people who are eating on their own, especially at night, have their attention drawn to the fact, and I would like it to stop! The waiters have absolutely no idea of their customers' story and should be a little more discreet. But again I ask, WHY does it need to be done at all? Can't you just leave the cutlery there? Or, do as they do in France, and have a few tables set for singles. There are masses of us after all!
Is it just me? Does anyone else feel like this? Are the restaurants worried we will dirty their disused cutlery? Why does this removal of spare cutlery even happen? Why is it necessary? I can't be the only Billy No Mates out there, choosing to travel and eat on my own sometimes. What about secret reviewers of restaurants? I bet any restaurant removing a second setting like a magician on speed would be unlikely to receive a great write up after that!
For now, room service will have to do in my tiny room......tiny because I am a Single so obviously don't warrant a bigger room like the couples have! So different to Wellington where I had the very best of experiences where I stayed & everywhere I went, despite the inclement weather.
So, rant over! My first ever on the blog.
I have met some delightful vintage style ladies & gents this week in Napier, and today the sun came out so I had an absolutely glorious day spotting all the vintage cars, even riding round town in one, having high tea in a vintage tea shop and meeting like-minded people all over town dressed up in 20s clothes. So my whole mood lifted and I had an absolute ball on my last day! Watch out for the blog on Napier, coming soon.
Meanwhile, a big thank you to the lovely people I met this week. You know who you are, I had the best time blog-wise thanks to you, and may our mutual eccentricity just grow and grow!
Well, well, well! It's not just single women, just listen to this story from a male friend of mine. Pete lost his wife two years ago and is now out and about making new friends, with his lovely two dogs. I met him on a group I joined called Dog Lovers Dating and he told me what happened to him just before a party thrown for us singletons. These are his words:
"I went to an Indian restaurant in Church Road, Hove, in Brighton, asked for a table for one, and was told, 'we don't do tables for one!' It was 6.45 pm and there were precisely six other people in the restaurant at the time. " Unbelievable! He was, as he described, dumb struck and just turned on his heel and walking out to find a restaurant that would accommodate him. Surely this is against the law?!
Your comments, as ever, would be gratefully received.