Five Lessons Learnt This Week

It’s that time again! In this week’s Five Lessons Learnt, find out how wheelie bins can get parking tickets, how to grow old gracefully and live life to the full, why you should be careful with online dating and how to get free flight upgrades…

1. Wheelie bins get parking tickets too

Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 16.50.32…well, sometimes. A formal investigation has been launched this week after an overzealous traffic warden was spotted issuing a parking ticket to a wheelie bin that had been left on some double yellow lines.

The badly parked wheelie bin in question was left blocking a road in the Welsh town of Carmarthen, and a member of the public apparently pointed out to the traffic warden that it was parked on double yellow lines. The traffic warden duly responded by slapping a parking ticket on the bin (presumably as a joke) – but he was spotted by salesman Mike Jones, who spoiled his fun by reporting the incident to the council.

Carmarthenshire Council have launched a thorough investigation into the “humorous incident” and assured the public that wheelie bins (or anything that isn’t motorised, for that matter) cannot be booked for bad parking.

Waste collection Biffa said it is a relief that the bin is not in trouble with the council – but it was a wheelie close call…

We wouldn’t mind getting a parking ticket if we were driving one of these cool new cars showcased at the Detroit Auto Show.

2. How to grow old gracefully

Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 17.02.52Well, actually gracefully might not be the right word – maybe we should say how to have fun as you grow old. Internet sensation Grandma Betty made it her mission in her old age to make the world a happier place, and she decided to lead by example. Great-grandson Zach (18) helped her set up her Instagram, which features pictures of the cheeky great-grandmother pouting, flashing peace signs, sticking her tongue out at the camera and holding a #behappy sign.

Despite fighting a tough battle with lung cancer, Grandma Betty kept up her ‘happy campaign’ until she sadly passed away last year, racking up hundreds of thousands of fans and followers including Pharrell Williams (who became a fan after Betty posted a video of herself dancing to his hit ‘Happy’), Miley Cyrus and model Cara Delevingne, who copied some of Betty’s iconic poses on her own Instagram.

Betty’s campaign may have started as family effort to keep smiling through her battle with cancer (before she was diagnosed, Betty had already lost her husband and daughter to the disease) but it has become a global sensation and an inspiration to cancer sufferers everywhere and a reminder to us all to live life to the full and enjoy every minute. High five, Grandma Betty.

3. Online dating isn’t all it’s cracked up to be

Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 17.16.57Dating is a minefield of potential issues and awkward situations. But online dating is a whole different kettle of fish – as Ann Gray from Somerset found out when she was forced to fake her own death to escape the clutches of an overzealous virtual lover. The 29-year-old had been seeing a man she met on an online dating site, and it started out well. After the third date, she invited him round for a meal, but then decided enough was enough and she wasn’t interested in seeing him again. Fair enough, you might think.

But her date wasn’t going to be let down gently, and continued to message her, at one point even sending her a text that read “We need to have a date tonight. I’ll be round in 30 minutes.” Okay, bit keen. So Ann came up with a genius way of getting out of the date – she pretended to be her sister, and replied to the message telling the man that she was in hospital with a serious illness. Problem solved? Well, no. He wasn’t going to be put off that easily, and asked what ward Ann was on, so he could come and visit. In a panic, Ann finally messaged him as her ‘sister’, telling him that Ann was dead.

The trick seemed to have worked, as she never recieved a reply. But he later tracked Ann down on the dating site and sent her a less-than-impressed message. However, Ann is now engaged to be married (and not even a little bit dead). All’s well that ends well…

4. How to spend your old age

Screen Shot 2015-01-23 at 09.55.15Moving on from Grandma Betty, this week’s news has brought to our attention another elderly woman inspiring all generations to live life to the full. 86-year-old widow Lee Wachtstetter sold her luxury home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida 7 years ago – and she’s been cruising the seas ever since.

Lee and her husband Mason had always loved cruises, and shared 87 during Mason’s lifetime. On his deathbed, Mason instructed his wife to “never stop cruising” – and Lee has taken his advice rather literally. Since his death in 1997, she’s been on 100 more cruises, as well as 15 around-the-world trips. She has disembarked in so many countries she stopped counting after 100, and now rarely bothers to leave the ship as she’s seen it all before.

Her cruising lifestyle sets her back £108,000 a year, and she currently resides on the 1,070 passenger Crystal Serenity ship, where she is affectionately known as Mama Lee. She has been on the ship longer than most of the 655 crew members.

Lee says she lives a stress-free, fairy tale life, though it has come at a price – she’s gained 25 pounds since taking to the seas!

If you’re going to take to the seas, do it in one of our favourite boats from the London Boat Show

5. How to get free flight upgrades

Screen Shot 2015-01-23 at 10.12.37…just get an Emirates tattoo. Widely dubbed Emirates “best customer”, 33-year-old Andy McGinlay has enjoyed £13k worth of free upgrades and is treated like a celebrity by airline staff after getting a tattoo of the airline’s logo.

The Glasgow-born traveller teaches English in Thailand, and has been to 80 countries since he started using the airline 9 years ago. He flies with Emirates whenever possible, and his loyalty (and choice of tattoo) has been rewarded – staff have told McGinlay that his picture is on a wall of celebrity customers alongside Michael Jackson and Christiano Ronaldo.

He gets a lot of perks for being a frequent flyer, including first-class flights where he drank 10-year-old Dom Perignon champagne, enjoyed Iranian caviar and even tried a rare £464 bottle of Hennessy cognac. And when he flew on his 28th birthday, staff threw a surprise party for him, complete with gifts, champagne and chocolate cake.

McGinlay says his friends back home think he’s crazy, and that when he posted a picture on Facebook last week of his first-class boarding pass and a glass of Moet, his friend commented “I hope you choke”. Nice…

Need to top up your frequent flyer points? Here are our top travel spots for traders