“Train strikes make life difficult, but for the elderly, travel is a constant trauma” – Val Savage

In this week’s column, Val, the mother of Mirror columnist and soccer star Robbie Savage, says older people are being left behind by technology – and knows Love Island’s Gemma and Luca are real

A train attendant at Waterloo station
It’s not just the rail strike that’s making travel difficult for many

The news of the train strikes made me think back to all the great trips I’ve had on the train. But that was a long time ago.

Traveling these days is difficult, not only because of my mobility, but because so much is organized online.

Friends tell me that train tickets need to be bought or canceled on their phones. I would have no idea where to start. Buses are no better.

Remember the days when we memorized the paper timetable, showed up at the bus stop, constantly checked our watches and hoped for the best? Now passengers can track exactly where the bus is on their cell phone.

But I can’t. I can check the weather and news on my iPad and FaceTime my grandkids, but that’s about it.

Once again, old folks like me who aren’t up to date with the latest technology are left behind.

My happy valleys!

Wales is wonderful – they don’t need to change anything, says Val


(Getty Images/EyeEm)

Wales needs a rebrand, business leaders say, because it’s being overlooked by tourists in favor of Scotland, England and Ireland.

I do not agree with you. Every Welshman knows that our country is so beautiful that anyone who visits will quickly return. Nowhere is it nicer.

We can walk for miles through the valleys without seeing another building – then we see a castle. We can stroll along the north-west coast without seeing a soul – then enjoy fish, chips, peas, a cup of tea and freshly buttered bread, all served with a friendly chat from the café staff.

The world’s biggest stars, like Pavarotti, have performed in Llangollen because Wales is the land of song.

And yes, we get bored of hearing sheep jokes, but in a country where there are more sheep than people, roast Welsh lamb is something very special.

Not long after I lost my husband Colin, my cousin John asked me from all over the world where I longed to go. I didn’t hesitate: Snowdonia.

The day he took me there we took the tourist train up and saw beautiful scenery as we waved to the hikers. At the top is a view of Anglesey and the Conwy Estuary that is so stunning it made me tingle. I knew I would never get closer to heaven.

So if Wales, even in its most scenic spots, isn’t overrun with tourists, then we like it.

Different sauce

Every house must have a gravy boat


(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

My friend Janet took me to a Sunday roast and made gravy like my mom used to make.

I wanted to ask if I could drink it from the gravy boat, but I knew I had to be polite. So I used a pudding spoon and within minutes the boat was empty.

After that we sat in Janet’s sunny garden and looked at old photographs from our high school days. Can anything be more mood lifter?

We dug up old class photos and challenged each other to name them all. And in our minds we were those young girls again.

Just when I was thinking how lucky I am to have Janet as such a longtime friend, she said, “You know, I wanted some of the leftover gravy, too, y’know.”

butter me!

You can’t go wrong, we crumpets…unless there’s not enough butter


(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

My daughter-in-law Kim, who was kind enough to do my shopping, gently asked if I really needed a 750g tub of butter every week.
I broke

I butter my toasted crumpets on the holey side so the butter sinks all the way through. Crumpets don’t do well with just a stick of butter—they need to be saturated. And even if there’s a quarter of the crumpet left, I’ll stop eating to slather on another layer so thick I can see my teeth in it.

I eat it insanely and don’t notice the butter dripping onto my face until I see it set in my wrinkles and cheeks as I wash my face in the mirror at night.

Scientists say if you can stand on one leg like a flamingo and count to ten, you’ll likely live through the next decade.
So I tried. I held onto my cane with one hand and stood on my good leg. Then I quickly counted to ten and flopped down on the sofa.

I could have started making plans for the next ten years. Instead I thought: What nonsense. Captain Tom Moore probably couldn’t stand on one leg and finished 100. No one, 22 or 102, knows when his time will be up.

It’s up to us to live each day as if it were our last and make sure we enjoy it. So pass the lurpak on – I need another piece for my crumpet.

feel the love

Gemma and Luca are right for Val



You might not guess by looking at me, but I have a serious addiction.

I can’t stop watching Love Island.

Maybe I don’t fit the target group. I don’t approve of thongs and when the couples use code words for sex I have no idea what they are talking about.

I turned it on to see Gemma Owen because our Robert says her father Michael is a lovely boy. An episode later I was hooked trying to figure out who’s real and who’s just in the game of fame.

Gemma and Luca are the real deal for me. And I have to watch every second of every episode to see which couple wins.

If I miss it because I fell asleep, I turn it on when I wake up at 5am. But I still wouldn’t wear a thong.

age is not an obstacle

Dame Judi Dench is an inspiration for the older generation


Dave Benett/Getty Images)

Delia isn’t just adored by Norwich City fans


PA archive/PA images)

Dame Judi Dench, who memorizes screenplays because she has a serious eye condition, says retirement at age 87 is not in her vocabulary.

Delia Smith says she’s had enough of cooking on TV at 81 – but admires Dame Mary Berry for having the enthusiasm and energy to keep going at 87.

All three are wonderful inspirations for people of a certain age. They show us that we’ve reached a point where we only want to do what makes us happy, whether it’s gardening or a job we’ve always loved.

Finding what makes us truly happy at any age means a life well lived.

  • If you wish to contact Val email or write to Val Savage, PO Box 7290, E14 5DD. The Mirror makes a donation to the Alzheimer’s Society in lieu of payment.

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