Saas Fe, Istanbul and Budapest!


Saas Fe

ski resort


The ‘weird’ in my life started here – at Gatwick airport in early to mid 1980’s. We ( a group of 8 or so) were heading to Saas Fe in Switzerland for a week long skiing holiday. I cannot pinpoint the year (1984/5 possibly) although I am quite sure someone will correct me should they read this. Still, we were about to board our flight when I realised I did not have any cigarettes so I dashed across the airport to buy a packet – (in those days you could smoke on airplanes!)

As I returned to my waiting companions Lynda Worthy, Karen Dixon, Jan Simpson, Anne and Mike Powell  in addition to the France boys Andrew, Martin and Rod, I heard a familiar voice – and stopped dead in my tracks. The voice was that of Tim Jackson whom I spent 3 years with at Blackpool College of Technology and Art studying the same course – and in the same group. I had left Blackpool some 3  or 4 years previously and had no contact with any of my fellow students in that time. I said ‘Hello’ and we briefly exchanged pleasantries – he was working at Buckingham Palace in the wine cellars and was heading off to Andorra with a gang of his mates. On returning to my party they asked who I had been talking to and I explained about Tim Jackson.

Three days later our entourage descended on a local hotel in Saas Fe for a fondue evening. As we entered the bar I immediately recognised a woman working behind the bar – she was facing away from us but I knew implicitly who it was. I said to my companions “I know her” to which they replied that just because I had met someone in an airport, I knew everyone!”  The woman turned around and I said “Hello Valerie!”

Valerie Parkinson had studied at Blackpool College of Art and Technology with myself and Tim Jackson, on the same course and in the same group! She was a top student but had decided on a different path by working the ski resorts in the  winter and going to India in the Summer to work as a guide. We met up later that week for a chat and a drink. I hope one day she reads this – I liked her free spirit.




Many moons later – in June 2001 I find myself on a flight to Turkey. I was working as a sales representative in Bradford, West Yorkshire and had won a 5* trip to Antalya. We flew from Heathrow to Istanbul before taking an internal flight to our destination. As we landed in Istanbul and began to disembark, a man came up to me and asked if I was from Bradford. I replied “No, I work there but it is not my hometown.” Immediately a woman appeared from behind him and she seemed familiar. She asked “Is your Mum Mary and your Dad George?” Stunned I just stuttered “Yes!” She said “Do you not remember me? I am your cousin Jacqueline!” That was the familiarity although I had not seen her for 40 years – we are still in touch to this day and as close as twins. Her husband Kevin Hindley worked for the same company and his branch had won the same trip as I – such is the wonder of this World.

What I like about this quirk of fate is their story. Jacqueline was a head strong character so much so that her parents sent her to live with her Grandparents in an effort to give her some discipline. I figured she had a tough time at school where Kevin Hindley met her. At some juncture he gave her a scarf which she kept for many years.

As fate would have it – a friend of Jacqueline’s went to work as a driver for Kevin at the Brown Brother’s branch in Crewe. After a difficult day she went to see Jacqueline and said that her boss Kevin Hindley was giving her a hard time. Jacqueline gave her the scarf and told her to give it to him the next day and that he would have to answer to her in future! They are still together this day!





In December 2018, JP and I headed to Budapest for a short break with the intention of catching up with Tamas Szigetvari – a Hungarian waiter that I employed whilst running a busy restaurant on the Costa del Sol. He was a fabulous waiter and a funny charismatic young man. He had opened his own restaurant on his return to Budapest called Flat White Kitchen and that is where we met up with him – he really had become an entrepreneur since not only did he have the catering business but worked as a Toast Master at weddings in the summer in addition to buying and selling computer parts across Budapest. It was great to see him and we will visit again since the City is stunning.

The weird happened a couple of nights later when we were in a bar just around the corner from our hotel. A man walked in and we made eye contact and nodded – somehow he seemed familiar. When he went outside for a cigarette I joined him and we started chatting. His name was Amar and he was British of Asian decent. I asked him where was from and he replied from Wolverhampton to which I replied that we used to live in Penn – a leafy suburb of the city – and in fact I had family living on Goldthorn Avenue and on Goldthorn Road. He asked me my surname and when I replied Stokes, he countered with “Ross?” Stunned i said yes – he is my nephew!

Talk about a small World – Amar had been going through marriage difficulties a few years earlier and his then wife had kicked him out of the house. He had nowhere to go until Ross offered him a room in the house he was renting from my brother. They became best friends. Amar eventually moved to Budapest since his now ex-wife (I think she must have been Hungarian) had relocated their with the two children so Amar wanted to be with his kids.

We had a really great evening with him and even sent a ‘whats app’ photo of Amar, JP and myself to Ross.

I wonder who I will bump into next unexpectedly on my future travels!

That said, I have bumped into two people down here on the Costa del Sol who were both working on the Song of Norway in Alaska when I was a Purser – one girl was a dancer and the other,was Scott – he was a Casino Manager! Watch this space!

 Next story – Alaska

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