Monday, 30 October 2006

My Chum Trixy


Reckons that this rather old photo of me (with hair?)























Looks like Tom "Sex Machine" Savini from "Dusk Until Dawn"?
Made me larf...

Big Brother IS Watching You

Britain has 4.2 million CCTV (closed circuit television) cameras in operation throughout the country, which equates to approximately one camera per fourteen people.

On average, a typical citizen will be captured on camera up to 300 times a day- more than any other country.

Say "cheese"...

Proud Parents and their Off Spring

It never ceases to amaze me how parents are so competitive about their kids.

"My son/daughter is very advanced for her age, you know. (S)he is only three months old but can can recite the alphabet backwards, crawl and make his/her own breakfast"

What is one meant to say to that?* The child is barely born and already the parents are guffing on about their achievements, such as they are. It's almost as if it's the end of the world if little diddums puts the potty on its head instead of sticking its arse in it.

Look, do us all a favour. We don't care, really. It may be the be all and end all to you but let's wait and see what little junior can do when (s)he has a chance to grow a bit.

Like in 10 years time.


*I usually ask if it can explain the off side rule to me...

Post Offices

It seems the remaining 14 000 post offices still surviving in England could face many more closures which could lead to an "accelerated" demise.

Whilst I am completely sympathetic to rural districts that rely on the PO as being "the heart of the community", and with it assume they have pleaseant and cooperative staff, I can only comment from my personal experience of encounters with my pals back in the Leigh on Sea branch.

For all the misery, frustration, grief, small minded pettiness and bureaucratic red-taped arrogance of the staff there, I shall quite happily dance on its grave if it were ever to shut down.

5-1 Again?

Sunday, 29 October 2006

Arminia Bielefeld beat Alemania Aachen 5-1 yesterday and now lie 5th in the Bundeliga, only 2 points behind Bayern Munich who are currently second.

So that'll be us fighting relegation again later this year again...

Sunday, 29 October 2006

Now This Could Be Very Handy

"Scientists are working on an electronic box of tricks that provides instant translations, and speech researchers are convinced that they have cleared the first big hurdle.

Electrodes attached to the face and neck of a user interpret the “unique pattern of electrical signals sent to facial muscles and the tongue” when someone is speaking, according to New Scientist.


Computerised software translates into the required language and the words are spoken simultaneously by a synthesised voice box. A programme has been developed that recognises which word sounds are most likely to be uttered next to each other and is able to translate on the basis of probability."*

We'd certainly find a use for this- my current Slovakian is even more dire than my Polish was. I'm surprised I've not been asked to leave the country yet, for cruelty to its lovely language...


*This article was shamelessly lifted from The Times

Coincidence?

Germany 5 England 1

The women's national sides met during the week and despite England taking the lead 0-1 (just as the German men's team did on that rather awful night in Bayern a few years ago) the final score also ended up the same.

Whilst the men's team in the last few World Cup campaigns have been pretty good, second (2002) and third (2006), the women are even more dominant currently European and World Champions- a feat never equalled by the men.

Here's to the World Cup next year in China where both teams will be playing; England having drawn with France 1-1 to qualify and stretch their unbeaten run to eleven games.


Until they met Germany, that is...

Bratislava Here We Come

Sounds daft I know, but we have booked a "weekend away".

It's actually not a proper weekend as we arrive on Thursday and get back on Saturday and it's not even that far away (Nitra to Bratislava is ~100 km). Nor do we "need" a weekend break as we've been on holiday for the last six months. However, we're off to see the capital of Slovakia in a few day's time and we're really looking forward to it.

We'll catch the bus (just over two quid for the journey!) and we have a rather smart apartment for a couple of nights. Accommodation is extortionate in comparison to the rest of the country (apparently Bratislava is ~ 38th most expensive city in the world) but it was cheaper to rent the apartment than it is to stay in a hotel.

The pad also has a lap top and internet connection so I'm sure we'll pop in to say before we hit the town.

No idea what to expect from the city but hopefully we can find an ice hockey game whilst we're there as this is something we've always wanted to see. Naturally we'll post up our impressions and maybe even a photo or two if we remember to take the camera.

The Extra Hour in Bed

The clocks went back this morning and now we are faced with months of dark, early evenings.

I suppose it's quite a novelty for a few nights, but after that? No thanks.

Why is it really still necessary to mess around with the clocks? Why can't we simply leave things be and let Nature take its course?

Saturday, 28 October 2006

Oi You- Squarehead!

How many people do you know who have a square head then? Perhaps Kryton of "Red Dwarf" fame, but I can't think of many more.

So how come all hair clipper manufacturers think the entire population has a square head? Must do- they all have straight cutting blades...

How about a curved cutting blade, eh?

And that goes for shavesrs and razors too, let's have something that is for the people, not that is easy for you to produce and we have to make do with please.

Law and Order?

A judge that seems to be in touch with reality- more please.

Judge Ashurst at York Crown court slammed “the “woefully inadequate” level of sentences available to the courts after only being able to jail a drink driver for two years.

The drunk driver crashed one car, injuring his passengers, before hitting a copper who tried to stop him escaping in another vehicle. Naturally he had no insurance either.




I bet he’d have got life if he’d been speeding though…

White or Brown?

Seems some artists are struggling to come up with original works and are scraping the bottom of the barrel (Marmite jar?)

Some bright spark has decided that the usual medium of canvas and oils is not nearly extreme enough and so has started doing portraits using Marmite on pieces of toast.

One slice or two?

Green is the Colour...

The UK Energy Research Centre, (a government-funded body) has been conducting research into motorway speed limits and concludes that strictly enforcing the 70mph limit, would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by almost four million tonnes per year. Further results show that reducing the speed limit to 60mph would reduce vehicle emissions of CO2 by seven million tonnes a year, reduce congestion on motorways and reduce the severity of crashes.

This sounds almost too good to be true and when you look at it a little more closely, you begin to see a bit more of the picture.

The centre recommends the use of cameras which calculate a vehicle’s average speed between two points. They are more effective than GATSO cameras at making drivers adhere to the limit over a longer distance.

Hhhhhmmm, on the one hand lower emissions and a greener environment and on the other, millions more into the coffers from the speeding motorist.

Cynical? Moi? Ab-so-bleedin’-lutely…

Thursday, 26 October 2006

German TV Presenters

It is so refreshing to see blurks on the telly who are presenting a show and they are not wearing a suit, but jeans instead.

Come on England, loosen up for God's sake- why the suit to discuss a football match for example?

Brilliant Ideas # 5883

Pizza restaurants.

They should offer the service of taking your pizza away from you at the half way eaten through stage and lobbing it under the grill for a few minutes to re-melt/heat the cheese.

It's so simple and makes perfect sense.

Unless you are a lardy gut bucket who can consume a 30 cm pizza in 5 nano seconds...

German TV Adverts

Back in England we were fortunate enough to have Sky TV and what a huge choice of viewing it allowed.

Unfortunately it also came with gazillions of adverts that were all either for enticing you to take huge loans for the rest of your lives, targeted retards who had had an accident and then wanted to sue for their own stupidity or wanted to sell you insurance.

Not so on Deutscher telly- they avoid these subjects like the plague and simply advertise "normal stuff" and I have no problem sitting through them at all. In fact, sometimes they even put up a little count down clock on the screen to let you know how many seconds you have left before the programme resumes.

Now that is a top idea.

I Think I am Turning into a Burd

It's what limited television does to you. One minute you're all manly and butch, the next (because you only have one channel available to you that you can understand) you are watching "Stars on Ice" (German edition) and er, quite enjoying it.

Perhaps I'll start drinking lager soon too.

Still On Beds

How the bloody hell does one fold a fitted sheet neatly after washing?

I'd defy anyone to get it back to how it looks when they first pulled it out of its new package.

European Double Beds

Are well groovy.

They consist of the double bed sized frame but they have two single sized mattresses within them enabling bed partners to choose differing types of mattress- hard, medium, soft etc to suit the individual's taste or requirements This cannot done with the typical English offering.

This also helps immensely when it comes to getting your fair share of the bed as there is clear markation of territory so you don't end up getting just 6" (15 cm, ha!) on one extreme side of the bed as wifey sooooooo graciously allows.

"But I want a cuddle" "Get off, I want to sleep" "Come here" "Git orf" "Hhhuummppfffff"- we've all been there, right?

And you get two single duvets as opposed to one big one- which again is most excellent for keeping some warmth on your side of the six inches.

Aye, Euro beds ROCK!

Wednesday, 25 October 2006

Mobile Speed Traps

I have no problem with fixed speed traps (sorry, "safety cameras") whether they are in a site notorious for accidents or not. Once they are in situ you make a mental note and then you either obey the legal speed requirements or pay attention and make sure you're within the limits as you go through. Very simple and quite honestly if you do get caught out, well, you only have yourself to blame.

I am not however a fan of mobile scameras.

They are usually placed in areas where they can achieve maximum financial profit and so feel that it is only fair and reasonable to forewarn any oncoming traffic of any impending hidden cameras.

Plod, naturally takes a very dim view of this but I can sleep easily at night and wonder just how many others would do the same? Plenty of times I have gone through a mobile trap but not one oncoming motorist has had the decency to give me a flash. I find that quite sad.

Tuesday, 24 October 2006

A Happy Tale

It strikes me that recently we have been concentrating on a few subjects that bring irritation, agitation and upset into our well balanced and calm lives, so to redress the trend; this heart warming story.

A family has made medical history after both parents became kidney donors to their identical twin daughters. Both daughters were diagnosed as suffering from renal failure several years ago but despite frantic waiting, no suitable donors could be located.

The parents (both in their early 50s) submitted themselves to exhaustive testing, which alone took over six months, but thankfully they were both declared as suitable and compatible donors.

After a successful operation a couple of weeks ago, the entire family is recovering and now relishing getting back to a normal life again- for the past three years the daughter's daily routines have been controlled by restrictive diets and their dialysis regimes. How grim must that have been?

So all's well that ends well but can you imagine if only one of the parents had a suitable kidney? How would that be for a moral dilemma?

The Cost of Travel

To date we have driven from England, across Holland and into Germany.

Right the way across Germany and into pretty much Poland's most northern points, and then down through the entire length of Poland, into Slovakia where we did much the same, driving from north to south over nearly the entire country.

Our most northern point was in Poland around Gdansk, our most eastern point was in Slovakia in Banska and currently we are in most southern place in Nitra, although this will soon change when we head off to Budapest in a few weeks time.


The price of petrol so far? A mere couple of hundred quid. Not too shabby at all.

Monday, 23 October 2006

Poetic Justice?

The Chief Superintendent of East Surrey Police was busted using his mobile phone whilst in charge of his car. He was followed by a civilian, whom he had just cut up, in “hazardous weather conditions” whilst driving with only one hand on the wheel with the other putting the phone to his ear.

On being reported, the senior Dibble bloke stated "at being embarrassed” and how it had been “an error of judgement”. Top Plod were unable to issue a formal fine because the offence can only be detected by a police officer, so he lobbed out £30 (the equivalent of the standard fine) to a charity (unstated, but probably the annual Rozzer Ball, maybe...)

Whilst highly comical and amusing no doubt, well to me at any rate, I’m just curious as to his excuse of “error in judgement”.

Er, he’s a copper and must know the law and the consequences. Does that therefore imply any prior involvement in enforcing the law is now open to questioning as he may have made an "error in judgement" there too?

Lonely Hearts?

It seems that as we spend so much time in front of the ‘pooter and with increasing hours devoted to work, we are having difficulty in forming new “real” friends and subsequently young men (twentysomethings) have less best chums that they can turn to in their hour of need and trust completely..

If this is indeed true (and I have never been a fan of sta-testicles as they’re all a load of bollocks) this is indeed quite sad.

People need to get out more…

;-)

You Dirty Rat

The latest scheme from Staffordshire police is to advertise for informants:

Wanted:

“Are you tired of looking over your shoulder? Sweating every time there’s a knock on the door? Crime not paying for you? Registered informants who pass reliable information to Staffordshire police can earn hard cash. Get a new start in life — for you and your family. Help us put criminals away, instead of you!”

Apparently the payments can range from fifty quid to “several thousands of pounds” and these posters are being distributed last week in pubs, clubs and other “recreational areas” in Stafford.

Here’s a better solution- ask your Rozzer stand in, the GATSO, to fill in a report and get the suspect in for questioning…

All Quiet on the Western Front

Or it may soon be for the next few weeks...

We had a lovely room when we first arrived here in Nitra, but unfortunately despite advertising free and unlimited internet connection, it transpired that our room just would not receive a signal.

Despite trying the lappie out in all possible positions, the room turned out to be a black hole for broadband transmission and so they offered us another room.

This was smaller (no problem) but it was a twin room with two single beds and unfortunately all they had available whilst they conducted some refurbishments to the other larger rooms and so they suggested we take it (which had a good reception) as an interim measure.

Yesterday we duly moved into our new room (and it was so new there is even a slight lingering smell of fresh paint) and it just happens to be a Suite.

Cor- massive double bed, hoooge TV with over 40 odd German channels and a separate sitting room to play on the net without disturbing sleeping beauty, etc. We moved all of our clutter in, blah etc blah but then noticed that the signal was a bit ropey. Hhhhmmm...

Turns out this room (as well as our original one; both at the front of the Pension) has a problem receiving a good connection and the signal we are receiving is actually from the hotel next door.

Anyhoo- sod the internet for a couple of weeks, we're chilling out in luxury and we'll just take a chance if we can post or not. Normal service will be resumed again (hopefully) in Budapest, Hungary from the first week of November, hopefully because as we have found out, what is advertised is not necessarily what you get.

Or, if you're really lucky we may get the odd hook up here and we can continue to share our pearl's of wisdom with you...like this this example...

Sunday, 22 October 2006

What a Load of Rubbish

Householders are due to face new charges to have their non-recyclable rubbish collected under government plans. Proposals by ministers recommend that councils should be allowed to introduce "top-up" fees which could be up to £200/year, just to have their bins emptied.

So, effectively a "rubbish tax" on top of the rates you already pay to have your refuse cleared away...

And if that wasn't bad enough...

Mr X, received a criminal record and was fined £100 by magistrates (plus £100 costs) after putting paper in a bag meant for recyclable cans and bottles.

It was his second offence — the first had been to put a bin out on the wrong day.

Have a good day, all.

Warning Labels on Bottled Alcohol

Coming soon allegedly, and in line with warning slogans and signs on fag packets, bottles of booze will soon have to bear similar notices.

I'm sure it will be an utter waste of time as, if you want to do something you will anyway, and no well meaning nonsense on a packet or bottle is going to deter you, but that is another matter.

But just imagine the fun you can have with coming up with some of these warnings?

"Warning- drinking this will not make that fugly mungler a right looker, despite what you might think"

"Warning- drinking this will not enable you to dance like John Travolta, despite what you might think"

"Warning- drinking this will not make you drive like Schumacher, despite what you might think"

"Warning- drinking this will not allow you to challenge that knuckle dragger to a fight for spilling your drink, you will still end up in hospital"

The possibilities are endless.

Finally We See Justice

You'll probably find this hard to believe but there are some things that really do wind me up...

Outside of the dangerous comedy duo Bush & BLiar, well generally politicians as a whole, is an irritation close to my heart- cyclists.

They have no formal or mandatory training, they pay no insurance or road fund tax and think the rules of the High Way Code do not apply to them. They bleat on at how they are helping the environment with no emissions and yet demand expensive cycle paths (to which they contribute the grand sum of diddly squat squared) and then rarely use them!

Come on, how many times have you personally witnessed our two wheeled green eco-warrior zoom straight through red traffic lights or ride up the pavement scaring all foot pedestrians?

Well chums- your time is up and finally you're going to be nicked.

Our German Bulls (friendly Deutscher term for Dibble) are introducing a bike mounted mobile Plod patrol to specifically target disrespectful cyclists and fine them for such things as... riding through red lights, riding on the pavement...great innit?

The special Rozzer bikes come with video cameras mounted on them and they can and will be used in evidence should it be needed. Which they are because (as the programme showed) the indignant push bike riders instantly deny any wrong doings and protest at their innocence.

Hah- here's the vid, sonny and that'll be a 60E (~£40) on the spot fine. Oh happy days...

Saturday, 21 October 2006

One Day in History

Is history now because "The One Day In History" project, organised by the History Matters campaign, invited web users to record what happened to them on Tuesday 17th October 2006 and add it to their website*. Well, that's not quite true- you can still get involved in the project until the end of October.

Anyone can post up a Blog of how history impacted them on the day (they suggest the following examples: walking past a historic landmark, listening to an old record or discussing family history etc) and your blogs will then be stored by the British Library and at other locations as a permanent record of national life. The date by the way, was chosen deliberately as an ‘ordinary’ Tuesday of no particular historical significance.

In case you missed it, your chance to contribute can be done here:

* http://www.historymatters.org.uk/output/page96.asp

Do NOT Go Straight To Gaol, But Do Collect £2 500...

It appears that if you are a naughty crim in the UK you may well be in for a torrid time- always assuming the courts level a custodial sentence upon you.

Over crowding in prisons is reaching saturation point with a jail population of currently 79,825 and only a further 210 places left available at the 139 gaols in England and Wales.

Drastic measures are being considered (amongst them make shift cells at the local nick and the possibility of prison ships) but the one that amused me was the solution to the foreign perps.

The Home Secretary announced plans to offer foreign prisoners a package worth up to £2,500 to help them to return home to serve their sentences.

Excellent- do the crime and then get paid to do the time back home...

:-D

Sorry, I Didn't Hear You- What Time Did You Say It Was?

British Telecom's speaking clock, first introduced seventy years ago in 1936 is due to have a new voice; the fourth since its inception.

Currently it is the voice of Brian Cobby, the guy most famous for the "5-4-3-2-1" countdown intro to "Thunderbirds" but it's been decided it's time for someone new.

So, if you fancy a go call 09067 533533 and leave a message.







But you will still be charged for the privilege at £1.50/minute.

Getting Cooler

Weather is finally on the turn with us here. Although still bright and sunny (and just about hitting 20 degrees C most days) it has turned a touch parky with a chilly wind and of course it is also getting darker earlier.

Soon it'll be time to put the clocks back and welcome in the dark, long winter months. Hopefully we'll see some snow along our travels but even more hopefully we'll have the car shored up and we won't have to drive through it.

Wonder what the chances of a White Christmas will be? Probably a lot higher than in the UK I should imagine.

Menus on the Move

Here's a charming little notion that is common throughout Europe; so far, with food menus.

Next to each dish they tell you the size of each portion that will comprise of your meal.

Example from our current menu (and what I had last night as it goes):

"Turkey fillet prepared with herbs in a creamy leek sauce" 150g (SK180,-)
"Sauteed potatoes" 160g (SK 30,-)
"Steamed red cabbage" 160g (SK 30,-)

This is such a top idea- if you're watching your figure you can calculate your calorific intake or, if you're a fat knacker you can choose the biggest dishes on the menu.

Prices (in brackets) are in Slovkian Koruny at ~55Sk : 1£ so to stuff my face came to £4.36.

Hair Cuts on Tour

As wifey has posted below, she has once again been to the hairdresser; the fourth time since we left.

"We've" had the snip in Germany, Poland and most recently in Slovakia and all of the results have been on par (quality wise) with what she was accustomed to in Blighty. Well, except price of course.

The latest trim set her back the princely sum of just under £3.00 but the best thing about getting your hair done abroad is that you don't have to make small talk about your holidays...

Even if wifey were fluent you can just imagine the conversation:

"So where are you off to, dear? Somewhere nice and warm?"

"Er well, thought we might just go for an indefinite tour of the world - OW that's my bloody ear"

"Bitch"

Friday, 20 October 2006

Slovak for Beginners

Just to let you know:

The Slovakian word for Brother is Brat

The Slovakian word for Sad is Smuty

The Slovakian word for Tent is Stan

The Slovakian word for Coins is Mince

Just as well my brother is called Shaun ...

Oh and "Skoda" in Slovak means "What a pity" Straight Up.

Haircuts and Manicures


Scary photo, but this is now the fourth or fifth time I have visited a hairdressers since leaving the UK and it still proves to be one of my greater challenges; principally because I only know about five relevant words in each language: Appointment, Short, Good, More and Cut being about it.
Haven't quite sussed out "No, I don't want to look like sodding Woodstock. Thank you very much" yet.
And for those of you who know me - Yes those are my fingernails. See miracles do happen.

Slovakian Fashion Part Three

The one thing that I find most peculiar about the Slovakian high street is the number of shops selling UK clothing (often second hand).
It verges on obsessional.
Now there are many wonderful things about dear old Blighty that I am immensely proud of and think we should actively promote worldwide- Freedom, Tolerance, Habeas Corpus, Cheese, Marmite and Beer for instance.

But fashion? Please.

I mean just look at that dodgy geezer walking past for a start.

The Dartford Crossing

When it was originally built it was due to charge people to use it only until the cost of the project had recouped its outlay.

The tunnel by the way for people who are unfamiliar with it (yes, we do have an international audience) is on the dreaded M25 and allows access over/through the Thames river from the county of Essex to Kent or vice-versa.

This target was reached in 2003 (for the cost of both tunnels and bridges) and yet the poor (literally) motorist has to dig deep into their pocket and continue to pay for the privilege of sitting in traffic for sometimes hours at a time.

Now I don't recall any mention of the scrapping of fees to be abolished and yet to this day, and every day, we stump up. In fact since 2003 an estimated £200 million has been collected from this toll (what is my sudden fixation with lots of zeros at the moment?)

Anyone know what happens to that money? I certainly don't, but it is a huge sum and not something that just falls down the back of a sofa, like loose change, is it?

But it gets better.

The fee is going to increase by 50% per car in 2008 (and just in case anyone reading this didn't pass their GCSE Maths exam; less than 50% last year did, that means all cars will pay £1.50 per trip to cross the river) and so, far from kicking the charge into touch, it's going to go up.

The solution?

Buy and ride a motorbike- that is free to cross.

It's All Foreign To Me

During our travels it has become increasingly more obvious just how much effort people make to speak English. In all the countries we have stayed in, English is taught at school from a young age and by the time the kids make it to senior school they are more or less able to speak it fluently.

Certainly in our limited experience, the younger generation will patiently listen to me attempting to order a meal, for example, and as I horribly mangle their beautiful language come to my rescue with almost perfect pronunciation and enquire if there would be anything else?

Contrast that to the UK where our own pupils struggle to even pass GCSE English- latest figures show that less than half can achieve a "C" grade or higher.

It puts us to shame I'm afraid.

America's 51st State

A new American National Space Policy was signed by President Bush on 31st August 2006 but the content of the policy was only just released by the White House this month.

It is the first full revision of space policy for ten years and states that the United States has the right to control access to Space and the Solar System.

I kid you not.

Good old George has pompously ignored 160 countries who wished to have United Nations talks about banning an arms race in space and instead unilaterally decreed that the US asserts the right to deny access to space to anyone “hostile to US interests”, although it gives no basis for that right.

So, Mr BLiar- is the UK one of the 160 countries Bush ignored? Or is your best friend going to invite you to the party through the back door?

*checks date on calendar to make sure it's not 1st April...*

Thursday, 19 October 2006

Bank Charges

I was aware that slipping into the red with your bank cost a few quid, but read recently just how much some banks charge. It can be almost as much as forty quid in some cases!

Here a few other details I found astounding:

- More than 43 per cent of current-account holders have gone into the red in error in the last year.

- The Office of Fair Trading is inquiring into the charges levied on current accounts after it emerged that customers pay £4.5 billion a year for exceeding their overdrafts.

- Banks and building societies have increased penalty charges by 20 per cent on average in the past three years.

- The average charge for unpaid cheques has risen from £27.40 to £32.81 per cheque


Am I the only one who feels this is obscene?

Speaking of Fashion

It is deemed by the people in the know that it is a sin for forty (plus) year old men to wear jeans- a complete fashion faux pas. A shootable offence even.

This coming from people who design ridiculous "clothes" that will get you beaten up in the street if you dared wear their creations outside the privacy of your own bedroom. Always assuming you could afford them in the first place of course.

So what do they suggest I should wear instead of jeans then? Can't imagine hiking around India in a pair of flannels is going to work. Nor will tramping about Thailand look cool in a pair of cords. What about some natty turn ups in Singapore?


Nah, think I'll stick with the jeans and take my chances, thanks.

Fashion in Slovakia

As with Poland, the fashion here is well defined and modern. Both the men and women dress with style, class and flair, whether on business, pleasure or somewhere in between.

Walking down the High Street and noticing the displays, even the mannequins are bang up to date- one or two were sporting trendy tattoos, although the facial piercings have not made an appearance. Yet.

A Joy To Read

Whether you are a fan or not of his TV/stage work (and for me he is a bit hit and miss) his literary work is quite beautiful. Exceptionally clever with the use of the English language, some laugh out loud, hilarious and wonderful observations and quite a splendid wordsmith; possibly one of England's greats.

I refer you to Stephen Fry and in particular quite an old book (first published in 1992 but don't let that put you off as it is still fresh and topical even now) of his "Paperweight".

I would imagine after having endured the arse we come up with on here it will be a blessed relief to read something that is well written and crafted, so go and treat yourselves- it's well worth a read if you can pick up a copy.

Alternatively, after the standard set on here, even Enid Blyton will be a literary masterpiece...

Wednesday, 18 October 2006

Here We Go Again

"TELEVISIONS with wasteful standby settings and DVD players that never switch off will be banned by regulations to be proposed by Brussels to force households to cut energy use by 20%."

Excuse me?

Are they referring to my TV/DVD player that I bought with my hard earned money (and paid tax and VAT on) and chose because it suited my needs and for which I pay the electrical bills (from my aforementioned taxed income and including further VAT on the fuel bill)?

Kindly fuck off and keep your nose out of my affairs.

By the way, boilers, computers, washing machines, air-conditioning units, cordless telephones and set-top boxes are also amongst items to be targeted.

The Cod's Off

We're all aware that cod supplies in the North Sea are dwindling and that if we're not careful it will soon become extinct. The extinction of any species is something that should not be permitted in this day and age and we are assured that measures are being taken to avoid this catastrophe at all costs.

The difficulty that the fishermen face is that as cod is a large fish and thereby bigger than the alternatives of haddock, whiting, hake and plaice, it makes it nigh on impossible to avoid "by catches" and no method has been devised to catch the other fish without scooping up cod in the process.

However, what is even more criminal than the extinction of this fish is the fact that although cod catches have been cut back to 26,500 tonnes a year, more than twice that amount is being caught in by catches by fishermen.

But it gets worse; fishermen accidentally caught about 50,000 tonnes of cod last year (2005) , and they had to throw the dead fish back in the sea because it is classed as an illegal catch.

Sheer and utter madness.

I Am Happy To Report

That the new "hit counter" seems to functioning well and I now have RSI.

Still With the Septics

It seems the American Embassy owes the borough of London over £1 000 000 in unpaid Congestion Charge fees and Mayor Ken is considering taking legal advice to get what is due.

The Americans are refusing to pay saying that it is a tax and therefore they are exempt from payment claiming "diplomatic immunity".

It must be nice to make rules up as you go along, musn't it?

How to Write Right English, Innit?

I was taught at school many years ago now, that it is forbidden to begin a sentence with either "And" or "But". Although "Also" and "However" were quite acceptable.

Why?

Who decides theses things and what right do they have to order us to follow their directives?

As long as my grammar and spelling is correct, surely that is all that is necessary?

It is also now frowned upon to include punctuation in an address. It used to be all rage in my day, and it had to be written in the top right hand corner of your letter, nowhere else was permitted .

Today, it can be pretty much anywhere you choose and woe betide anyone who adds commas and full stops!

On the subject of letters, there are further strict rules on starting and finishing them too.

"Dear Sir" was followed by "Yours faithfully" and "Dear Mr/Mrs XYZ" was concluded with "Yours sincerely". Again, why? Who sits there making up these rules and regulations and then deems it to be bad writing if one doesn't follow the prescribed format?

And when does it all change? When is one practice superseded and a new one introduced?

Ah well, as long as the kids of today are able to spray a decent tag I'm sure all will be well...

Hope this spell checker is working- it would be most embarrassing to make any errors!

Censorship

It is oft pointed out (without much conclusive evidence it has to be said) that television, film, music and games; pretty much all leisure media, are the root of all evil and can influence impressionable minds to commit crimes and to go on the rampage, killing, raping and a-pillaging.

OK, let's consider this a bit further.

By viewing say, a violent 18 rated film, these so called "experts" suggest that copy cat actions are perpetrated by fulfilling the incumbent's violent (and/or sexual) fantasy in real life, just because they happened to watch something similar on the silver screen?

And therefore these guardians of all that is good and wholesome feel they have a right to ban such films?

Fine. Let us do that and then whilst we're at it let's ban The Bible too, because throughout history you'll find there are many, many more cases where disturbed minds have gone on killing sprees "because God told me so" or "it was what God wanted me to do."

What say the experts to that then?

300 000 000

Is the new (probably was now) official figure for the population of America and this milestone was reached yesterday, Tuesday 17th October 2006.

It is predicted that at current birth rate and continuing immigration levels (both legal and illegal) they will reach 400 000 000 people by the year 2043.

That's a lot of candidates for the world's self imposed police force...

On the subject of millions (and keeping well clear of Wembley), it is estimated that 1 000 000 light bulbs will burn themselves today alone.


I really need to get out more!

Tuesday, 17 October 2006

Wembley Stadium

It now seems almost tentatively, maybe, perhaps, hopefully, with a bit of luck, optimistically definite that Wembley will now be ready to host the 2007 FA Cup final.

It's also estimated that the final cost is likely to be over the current £757 million by another £50 million. Yes, you are reading this correctly. Nearly £830 MILLION to rebuild a football stadium.

And what for? To see the England "team" attempt to play football?


Words fail me (well, not on here) but someone is having a right good laugh somewhere.

Come on you Deutschland...

Speaking of the Australians

As we just have been in the post below. Another thing that makes me laugh is this so called "great sense of humour" they have and how "manly, rugged and tough" they are supposed to be (and that's just the women!)

Whilst we were there they did nothing but complain and moan.

The neighbours were upset as we were playing music and having a party midweek at ~10.00 pm- it was a wedding/40th birthday ffs, and it really wasn't all that loud or late.

At the first hotel we stayed in they shut the bar at around 9.00 pm- so much for hard drinking Aussies.

And they certainly were not happy with us as they were losing the Ashes!

Which finally brings me to the point of this post.

Just read that the Australians have launched an official complaint against the "Barmy Army"* requesting that they not travel to Australia for the forthcoming Ashes series, likening them to our Football Hooligans.

This, coming from the team that supposedly invented sledging? This from the country boasting aggression, grit, determination and single mindedness? This from a country that labels us "whinging Poms"?

Pur-lease.

I'm just sorry we're going to get stuffed by them this time (although I really do hope I'm wrong) but at least we were there in 2005 as they lost the Ashes for the first time in nearly 20 odd years.

Finally, I apologise to our foreign fans on here- this will probably be the least meaningful post on here as it involves CRICKET. Oh, and to the burds too for the same reason...


* http://www.barmyarmy.com/ or http://englandcricketfans.rivals.net/default.asp?sid=1425 it seems they have more than one site.

This STILL Makes Me Laugh

Last year we were fortunate enough to travel to Australia to see a good friend celebrate his 40th birthday and to also get married.

He wasn't aware of the wedding bit, (he obviously knew his own birthday) and nor did he know about a few surprise guests turning up either, so all in all he had a few shocks over those few days.

Anyhoo, it's not that that made me laugh, although the look on his face when we wondered in from half way around the world was indeed priceless, but a local shop sign that brought a smile to my face.

It was in fact a take away Greek restaurant and it was called:

"Abra-kebab-rah"

;-)

All Work & No Play

Makes Jack a dull boy.

Guess that makes us the life and soul of the party then.

:-D

McDonalds

Restaurants the whole world over and we've certainly used our fair share. Never had a problem with them (although I've always preferred BK as their burgers are flame grilled {supposedly} and hence taste better to me) and McDonalds have certainly come to the rescue when funds have been short and the hunger was long.

Equally too, Eastern Europe seems to boast a Macky D on most corners (although less obviously here in Slovakia) but the odd thing is that in the last six months or so, I have yet to succomb to its lure.

Nope, not one single burger in over 200 days.



Still a fat bastard, mind.

Halloween

Is approaching soon enough and with it yet another ridiculous charade of pretending to enter into the spirit (sic) of things by "dressing up" and "Trick or Treating".

Let's put this into perspective, shall we? It is no better than demanding money with menaces from somebody who can legitimately hide their true identity behind a sheet.

I'm also surprised at the number of small kids who take to the street unsupervised; it's not as if things are as safe as they used to be, is it?

Nah, not a fan so let's leave it to the experts back in the good old US of A shall we?

Black and Tan?

It seems the risk of skin cancer amongst the younger generation from using solariums and sun beds is causing some concern amongst the Health & Safety bods in Germany.

They are considering banning anyone under the age of 18 from using them because as the skin is thinner amongst the youngsters so the risk of the "Big C" is significantly higher.

Funny, I always thought teenagers were pretty tick skinned.

Monday, 16 October 2006

The "C" Word

OK, we're about half way through October and I'm willing to bet that somewhere you will have already seen an advert, display or reference to Christmas. I'm willing to wager it will be either WH Smith, Boots, Argos or Woolworth.

Absolutely nothing here as yet but we are keeping an eye open to see when we get the first signs, but I'm hoping it's no where near as soon as they seem to start in England. Thank God.

I reckon that anyone advertising for Christmas before at least the middle of November should be boycotted until Easter.

So that will be until the beginning of December then. *sigh*

Hit Counter

Finally got my head around how to paste and display the hit counter (see above our links on the right hand side) so we will now know who's been telling porkies about visiting...

Technology- don't you just love it?





*wanders off to start clicking on www.ktelontour.blogspot.com most frantically*

Dear Diary

06.30- 07.00

Wake up.

Try and figure out where I am. Use method of elimination to work out which county we are in and thereby where we are staying.

Fail. Start again realising short term memory is shite.

Do eye exercises.

Quietly switch on the 'pooter (wifey sensibly stays asleep) and play for a couple of hours. Check our financial situation via on line banking (standard "dire" situation), catch up on the news (big fan of the BBC World News and The Times On Line), put some stuff on the Blog (some day it may even be vaguely reasonable, so we all live in hope) and contribute to a few chosen bike forums.

09.00-09.30

Start to increase volume of noise and accidentally begin to clumsily drop stuff in the vain hope of raising the dead. Give up the subtle approach and whack on a CD or log onto Capital Radio (old habits die hard. Wifey stirs a bit so turn the volume up until my ears begin to bleed.

10.00

Wifey asks what time it is and stumbles off to the shower.

10.15

My turn to get next to God.

10.30-11.00

Head off into town, explore the new sights and maybe take a few pictures.

Begin the hunt for a place to have lunch.

Check out menus, see how busy the places are and most important of all calculate cost of dining. Put on big cheesy grins when we realise we can eat out for lunch for the price of a ready made sandwich and can of pop ("Mega Meal Deal") back in the UK.

~12.30-13.30

Finally settle on lunch venue and scoff out. Remark at low cost (again) of great quality food and thoroughly enjoy the experience thinking how fresh food "al fresco" in a town square beats a sarnie at a desk.

13.30- 16.00

Walk off lunch and continue to look around the town.

Or, find a good cafe/bar/pub and have a couple of drinks.

Or, wander off back to the pension/hotel/guesthouse and have a snooze- 'cos we can.

16.00- 19.00

Read, get back on the internet, make a few calls via SKYPE, watch TV or even a DVD on the lap top.

Take another shower (hey- we don't have to pay for the hot water...)

Get ready to go out for dinner.

19.00- ?

Have dinner at yet another restaurant or if we're feeling lazy just eat in or even ring up for room service and may be watch the evening film (in German usually) until it's time to crash.


Life is really not so bad on the road, is it?

The Right To Vote

I am aware that "ex-pats" are able to register their vote from their foreign domicile, but what are our options?

We are moving from country to country staying perhaps between, one to six months in one place and then moving on- kinda like modern day Nomads or Gypsies one could say (but again I digress) so how will we be able to vote when the time comes?

We are unable to provide an address abroad as we may not even know ourselves, so postal voting is not a viable option and with the scandal and loopholes/vote fixing possibility surrounding the controversy of electronic voting, that too seems an unlikely solution.

Anyone any ideas? Perhaps it's time to pester the British Embassy for their advice?

We'll quite literally keep you posted as we learn anything new.

Sunday, 15 October 2006

Food Shopping

We've been doing quite a bit and I suppose we all do our fair share to keep us going. This has given us good cause to experience a large number of supermarkets in the few countries we have be guests in.

A trend we have noted is that one is expected to pay for shopping bags or to provide one's own.

Great idea; a very simple way to keep costs down, prevent wastage and encourage recycling.

Unfortunately, not being used to this notion we have now acquired a rather large, varied and colourful collection of supermarket shopping bags (of the higher quality kind naturally). Come on, who remembers to take a bag for shopping with you when you're on holiday- they're always provided and free, right?

Now, where's that address for Ebay...

Nice in Nitra







Jury Service

OK, we're off on a jolly around this wonderful world; it may take some time and hence we will not be back to the UK for perhaps several years.

What happens if we are called up for jury service in that time?

We have no way of knowing but assuming we don't show up as requested (highly likely) will there be a warrant for our arrest, for say dereliction of duty or perhaps contempt of court?

We assume the onus will be on us to advise them of our absence, hardly a clear case of "innocent until proven guilty" then.

Oh the irony...

Saturday, 14 October 2006

Slovakia- Banska & Nitra

Due to poor internet access since our arrival in Slovakia we haven't had much opportunity to tell how we found both the places we were/are at. So, as the professionals can do it much better than I can I've cadged a load of stuff off the web for you to have a gander at:

Banska

This is the most widely spread out region in Slovakia and includes several mountainous areas favourable to winter sports. There are several ski resorts for alpine and cross-country skiing. (Osrblie hosted the 1997 World Biathlon Championship).

The Southern districts are very popular in the summer season partly due to their famous thermal baths region, where visitors can even take advantage of the beneficial effects of speleotherapy (Bystra).

Banska is the administrative, economic and cultural center of Central Slovakia. A national cultural monument dominates the city center. The Church of our Lady is the oldest building. It is characteristic of the change in European architectural styles.

Banska Bystrica (the full name) is certainly one of the Slovakian cities with the richest architecture. The centre of the city is exceptional with many monuments and buildings (far too many to list here) and in the middle is the Clock Tower which, like the Tower of Pisa, leans. The city houses several art galleries and museums, including the SNP Museum which commemorates the resistance to Nazi oppression. Banska Bystrica is, because of its cultural richness the pearl of Central Slovakia.

We loved it and wished we could have stayed longer but sadly it was not to be as we had to carry on to:

Nitra

Nitra is one of the oldest town settlements in Slovakia.

As early as the 9th century, it was a princely seat of the Great Moravian Empire and later it welcomed the pretender to the throne of Hungary. In 830, the first Christian church in Slovakia saw the light of day there and Nitra became an independent royal town in 1248.

It suffered from several Turkish invasions and the Nitra Castle is the most visited monument in the city. The Upper Town is comprised of particularly well-preserved historical buildings including a Franciscan Church, burgher houses and an art gallery.

A permanent exhibition at the Nitra Museum shows the history of the city, its surrounding areas and Slovakia. The Nitra State Gallery, the Gallery of the Young, and the Art Gallery present Slovakian works as well as temporary exhibitions by foreign artists, so as you can see the cultural life in Nitra is very rich.

And that is what we hope to explore over the next few weeks. We've put up some pictures of Banska on Flikr already and will be adding some of Nitra in due course.

Birthdays

Many happy returns of the day to H in Hamburg who celebrated his 70th yesterday despite looking and acting like he's just about hitting fifty.

Also to my brother who's birthday is today- 39 if I can still work out my basics maths.

And to my Aunt in Bielefeld for Monday who will be just 21 once again.

Best wishes to you all and we hope you have memorable daze/days...

Friday, 13 October 2006

Slovkia V Germany

It almost feels like yesterday since the Germans came third in the whole wide world in football and already the qualifying matches are being played for qualification to the 2008 European Championships.

The Krauts started off in their usual dodgy manner beating Ireland by a solitary goal at Lansdowne Park and then followed up by setting a new Euro record by scoring thirteen (yup, 13!) past the luckless San Marino, whom I believe if memory serves, the same country that scored against England in less than five minutes from kick off, or similar a few years ago.

Their third match in the campaign was to play Slovakia in Bratislava, which is approximately 100 km from Nitra where we are currently staying. Slovakia are no pushover and they were just returning from The Millennium Stadium where they had turned Wales over 1-5, so it was deffo going to be a tight game.

We decided against going to see the game live, instead settling in to watch it on the big screen and I don’t want to crow about the result (1-4 in Germany’s favour) but just comment on the quality of play. The Germans have built on their World Cup success and were playing some extraordinary football in the first half. One touch man to man, retaining possession and making some exciting and attacking play with flair, aggression and purpose.

Full marks to the new trainer who proves there is life after Klinsi…

Nitra? No Problem...

Packed the car, set the Mio (Sat Nav) to seek and off we trundle direction Nitra, approximately 100 km from Banska in the south of Slovakia..

Making good progress and following the advice of our trusty Mio we were instructed to follow the road for 95 km and so we settled down to enjoy the scenery until wifey “Co-Pilot Number One Extraordinaire” asks if I saw the road sign.

I saw this as a test and playing it cagey, responded with my usual flair and grace; “what sign?”

“The sign that told us to take the next exit towards Bratislava”.

“Er no, Ms Mio says stay on the E571 for the next 90 odd km.” (Trust me to get two burds navigating).

“Yes, but I think we’re heading in the wrong direction”

“We can’t be the Sat Nav has not let us down so far so must be heading in the right direction.”

“Hhhhhmmm*” Rustling of paper map. (I mean how 20th century??)

“Check I entered the details into the Mio correctly, if it makes you feel any better”

“Pull over then”

“Look at the map- we’re obviously heading in the opposite direction” as wifey has a look at the Mio and then casually mentions that there are in fact two Nitras, and as luck would have it, both are on the E571- just at opposite ends.

Of course I had to have picked the wrong one…

So, we get an opportunity to re-check the wonderful scenery on the way back and arrive at our correct destination a mere thirty minutes late. Life is just so full of adventures.


*Extreme danger sign for the uninitiated

Tuesday, 10 October 2006

Bye Bye Banska

Baby Bye, Bye *echoes of Bay City Rollers*

*shudder*

Aye, we're leaving Banska tomorrow and heading south to Nitra, near the capital of Slovakia, where we will making home for the next 3-4 weeks. Banska is absolutely lovely and as it was originally an old German mining town it had quite a Germanic feel to it, which made me feel most comfortable- especially as German was sometimes easier understood than English.

So, we'll be off line for a few days until we sort out our life-line to the outside world but normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.

Food in Eastern Europe

You're probably under the impression it is quite a limited choice of what you can get to eat around these parts. Wrong. I am amazed at not only the choices available but at the quality of the meals served in the restaurants and snack bars that are in abundance here.

Not only that, but the fresh fruit and vegetables found at the local markets is as good, if not better, than any Central European equivalent. Ditto supermarkets; although the cheese ranges are not perhaps quite so varied and a strong cheddar is definitely missing.

So put all thoughts of cabbage soup and pickled vegetables out of your mind (although they do exist and rightfully so as they are really delicious) and you'll be in for a treat. Especially when you get the bill.

Saturday, 7 October 2006

Getting Brutal in Bayern

As anyone who witnessed the opening ceremony of the 2006 World Cup will attest, the Bayern people of Deutschland know less than a Bratwurst about TV presentation.

This is borne out by a program we watched this week on RTL entitled “Bauer sucht Frau” (Satellite TV in Slovakia – when it is working - consists of RTL, Deutsch Eurosport, Deutsch MTV and 3 Slovak channels.)

Basically the program is a serious Blind Date in lederhosen.
It introduces a dozen single farm-lads (I use the term loosely as most are approaching middle age and still living with their mutters) who are looking for a spouse.
They each get to select two “lucky” fraulein from a postbag of would be frauen to take as consorts to a contrived weekend barn dance.

During the course of the weekend the herren then choose which of the two blushing hopefuls gets to continue onto the next round – which is to spend a week down on the farm with Hans, Mutter and in one case four generations of country folk in Bavaria.

Now it is not the style of program which I find so amusing. Frankly it is manure. It is the sheer, brutally insensitive, Teutonic honesty with which the unsuccessful applicant is annihilated – sorry I mean eliminated. The poor girl, who had little, if any, self esteem to start with, is subjected to an unbridled character assassination by the heartless Herr in the presence of her gloating rival and the callous camera crew.

I can’t wait for next week’s episode to see what manner of indignities are heaped upon the unfortunate maedchen.

I love Germans – they are just so LITERAL.

An Alcoholic Function

Whilst messing about on some website or other yesterday, I was amused to learn that I am diagnosed as a “Functional Alcoholic”.
Now, it is not the extent of my imbibing that I find of interest but the terminology of classification. What on earth is a “Functional Alcoholic”?
Does this mean that I function very well as an alcoholic? Or that I must try harder?
Quite frankly, I find “functional” to be decidedly mediocre.
Would it be better therefore to be a “successful alcoholic” rather than an “inadequate” one? And if I stop drinking altogether does that make me a “Dysfunctional Alcoholic”?

In the words of Jeffrey Bernard “I’m not a drunk anyway. I drink – these words are all wrong.”*


Cheers


*Yes I know he had a leg amputated and died of renal failure

Bank Charges

We used to be with a more than famous bank with whom we have had an account (several in fact) for more than 25 years. We explained that we would be moving abroad, from country to country, for quite some considerable amount of time and mentioned that we concerned about getting access to our cash without charge or penalty.

We were advised that we could get to our funds 24 hours per day, pretty much anywhere in the world without any problem via their numerous affiliated cash points (ATM).

Yes, we were aware of this but we were concerned about being charged for this privilege. Erm, it's only 1.5% (minimum £1.50/transaction) so that is not so bad is it...Sir...?

What about our credit card? Yes, same charges apply.

OK, we've been on the road for just over six months so we thought we'd just check out how much we have saved by moving our accounts to the Nationwide. (No product placement but we're expecting a crate of Marmite to follow guys).

Ready?


Two hundred quid. Yes, £200 and that is a conservative estimate.

Banks, don't you just love 'em?

Wer Wird Millionär?

As in "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" but obviously the German equivalent.

Well I would, but I'd prefer to do it in England thanks; you'd be down ~£285 715 if you did it in Euros. And you would have to understand the questions in German...

Although saying that, I could have won 32 000 Euro tonight :-D

Friday, 6 October 2006

Quotes

Why is so much importance attached to quoting some saying from someone to prove a point or come across all learned?

Stop being so lazy and use your own imagination and intelligence to describe the circumstances that lead you to plagiarising someone elses skills.

Adverts on German Television

After months without English speaking TV, our current place of residence has one channel that is in German (RTL) and therefore almost as good.

Whilst watching something recently, we noticed that the advert patterns differ from those in England.

Fewer ad breaks but longer in content but the most interesting observation was that perhaps five minutes prior to the end of the programme, just as the show reaches its conclusion, they take a break. Thereafter, they then resume and go directly into the next programme, usually without even showing the credits.

Not sure of the reasoning behind it- perhaps that you are so close to the end that you just cannot afford to miss the climax and so you sit through the entire advertisements and then you're straight into the start of the next show?

Got to say I quite prefer it like this- if only to miss some of the dull credits which seem to go on for so much longer nowadays.

'S Lovely in Slovakia








Although the weather was slightly overcast when we took these, it turned out to be a lovely warm day soon afterwards. This is Banska and you'll see more of it over on Flickr soon, once we land at our next place, Nitra.


Thursday, 5 October 2006

Asterisk

Swearing, it's not big, it's not clever but it can be bloody funny and appropriate. It's also a sign that this wonderful language of ours is evolving, as it must for it to develop.

The majority of people swear, it is around us everywhere and the "yoof" of today use it as a second language. Walt Disney films use swearing, The Times uses it and the BBC use it liberally. You cannot escape it and it will continue to grow even more.

But what I don't like is the way some people feel that it is more acceptable to use an asterisk or two to disguise the word they want to use- as if this type of censure makes it better. It doesn't; it insults my intelligence and that is far, far worse than the odd naughty cuss.

Alternatively, just don't use the word in the first place if you feel are uncomforatble or not prepared to call it what it is.


F*ck, fu*ck, fcuk, f**k?

Who gives a feck...

Verdi's Attila the Hun

Wifey has managed to obtain a ticket to see the above opera tonight, here in Banska. She kindly offered to get me a seat too, but as I'm doing my hair tonight I sadly had to decline.

No doubt she'll be posting up her experiences of the opera on here in due course, but in the meantimeI'll do a quick resume for those unable to wait:

Lots of fat burds, lots of wailing and whallowing, hand wringing and whinging. In a foreign language. Repeat ad verbatum, add in some OTT costumes and make up and stop when the really big burd sings- that's always the end.

Oh, and the best thing? The price. £3.50 for a circle seat.

Product Placement

Big up to Qatar Airways- quite possibly the best airline in the world and fully k'telontour endorsed. Got nothing to do with our fabulous (free) day at the Qatar Airlines Open in Berlin a few months ago at all.

Also got nothing to do with inviting any major retailer to offer us freebies for mentioning their most excellent products on here.

No, not at all. We'd hate to receive Marmite, Extra Mature Farmhouse Cheddar, London Pride, Guinness, Wotsits or Coke free stuff for something that is so obvious.

Guns and Stuff

Two extremes.

USA- arm the coppers and let the people have the right to carry arms.

UK- Plod gets nothing more than a stick and the people are banned from getting hold of weapons.

Europe (from our experience) doesn't allow its citizens to carry guns either, but all police have pistols as a minimum, on their person at all times.


So, does the argument that arming your police force encourages the criminals from doing the same still hold?

Wonder how the stats for gun related deaths in Europe compare to both the UK & the US?

Lunch For Fuzz

Noticed this in Germany, Poland and here that the police seem really quite happy to take lunch in public places and that is not something we have observed in the UK.

Do English cops actually dine out in public or do they use their local canteen/eat sarnies at the desk and keep well away from common, Joe Blow? I've never seen them.

I think it's great to see the local feds scoffing away like the next person like normal people and not some kind of aloof and perhaps superior being. Surely this presents a much more human and approachable face, to see our law enforcers integrating with the community?

They claim and wonder why they have no support from the person in the street, well, perhaps this is something to consider?



Mind you, a don't suppose GATSOs have much of a preference as to where (or what) they eat, eh?

We Don't Half Pick 'Em

Had our "let's explore the pubs, bars, cafes and restaurant around the square" day yesterday and had a ball. But we really do end up in some odd places.

The first place we ventured into seemed like a creche- the average age must have been 7. So I felt really at home with my peer IQ...

Then we had lunch in another venue (I had to leave the other place as I had more zits than the clientele) and found a super corner table free where we made ourselves quite at home.

With great abandon we got into the spirit of things and were having a fabulous time when two local Plod came in and sat next to us at a table very close by. 15 minutes later another two turned up. They were then joined by their captain who, during their lunch break, gave them their orders for the rest of the day.

They then left, but were quite literally followed in by another shift of four Dibble.

Guess we'd found the copper's local and sat right by their favourite table...

Lunch Time Dining

Been doing quite a bit of this over the last few months and thoroughly enjoying it.

It's also a better way of stretching the pennies- "lunch specials" are usually identical to the evening offering; just slightly smaller portions (again, not a problem for us as we have modest appetites) but still great quality and good choice.

Back in the days of work with my old company (ESL, which then became MDS and now, for the moment at least is TBS) we used to treat ourselves once a month or so to a lunch time curry at a local Indian restaurant, where all of the staff joined in. Top fun, good for "team" spirit and a nice way to welcome in the forthcoming weekend.

It was at these occasions where it was noted that this particular curry house added its own special ingredient, namely sleeping powder.

Lunch time dining is definitely not conducive to continuing working in the afternoon, but since we have been on our travels we have come up with a solution.

An hour's kip in the hotel works wonders. :-D

Blister Packs

You know the ones that require a machete to even come close to opening the stiff, plastic housing that protects the goods from damage and nuclear war?

Should be re-named "lacerated and missing digits with copious amounts of blood on the floor" boxes; blisters aren't the half of it...

Price Stickers

Is it really necessary to spot weld the price sticker to the product of sale?

I mean, really?

And "Inspired" by the Last Two Posts

We move smoothly onto our next subject of Space Exploration, another bug bear with me.

Man made an incredible breakthrough by landing on the moon, some nearly fifty years ago and since then has continued to push the boundaries further and further by sending out exploration vessels deeper and deeper into "outer space".

Why?

What on earth (or not, as the case may be) do they intend to achieve? We have not even managed to colonise the Moon and yet they insist they want to look further, but for what purpose? To seek out other life sources? To discover if the Human Race is unique or not?

Who cares? And even if you do, can it really justify the spending of billions over the years? Think about how much good that wasted money could have achieved here, back on good old terra firma?

We have millions dying through famine and yet we ignore what is happening on own doorstep due to some futile exercise that quite frankly not many rationally minded people really give a toss about.

*Steps back and waits for the masses of protest from the Trekkies and other pro-Space Exploration fans*

On the Subject of the Post Below

You know, the "one small step" one. Do you think Neil Armstrong made that up on the spur of the moment? It's kind of a well famous moment in time and the whole world is quite literally watching you, so the first words on another planet are surely going to be long remembered and recorded for ever more.

Did he just open the door, have a look around, step down and come out with it?

Or was he crapping himself as the moment got closer and closer and try to prepare something in advance of the landing so it was a bit more rehearsed, poignant and smoothly delivered?

Or, another thought. Was it pre-written back on Earth by some one else? If so, who was it and why didn't they get the credit? Bet they'd write good wedding speeches too...

Monday, 2 October 2006

One Small Step For Man

Because I only have, according to Mr Levi, a 28" inside leg.

However, our first time in Slovakia and our first time driving through the Tatra Mountains (our first drive through any type of mountain range as it goes) which were quite literally breathe taking. Stunning scenery, great roads with load of tight, winding bends; oh how we missed the use of a motorbike through those twisties.

Unfortunately we didn't get any photos as the camera was right at the bottom; right at the back of our stuff (great forward planning as usual) so you'll just have to take our word for it. Or come and have a look for yourselves...

Poland to Slovakia

Approximately over a 200 km drive from Krakow to Banska, via the Tatra Mountains, we left in good time and with good weather on our side.

Checking and re-checking that we had all the correct paperwork ready to hand for the border, as advised by all the internet sites we had researched, we had a list a mile (sorry, we're European now, a kilometre) long.

- Passports? Check
- Driving documents? Check
- Licences? Check
- Private medical insurance? Er, nope but we had our Euro National Health Cards, so fingers crossed.
- Proof of finances? What? We were advised that at the border we would have to offer proof that we could stay in the country without being a burden on the state. Dead good idea (England, are you listening?) They said it was $50.00/person/day? Cripes, that could be a challenge, we were due to stay at least six weeks. Again, further crossing of fingers.
- Road tax/toll sticker to enable us to use the roads. Buy them at the border.

So, off we trundled and again we made remarkable time as the Polish roads were fine; both condition and usage-wise. We got to the border, did the passport thing and were then waved through. That was it! I felt cheated that we weren't even asked to show our driving licences or anything else. Still, as my old Auditor used to say "never volunteer information that is not asked for, you never know which can of worms that will open".

We stopped off to buy the toll sticker (£3.50 for the week) just after the border and we were on our way.

Cool.

Star Ratings

For hotels.

It would be good if all the ratings for hotels were standardised across the globe.

From our experiences, it seems that Eastern European hotels get awarded stars not necessarily for the quality they offer but for the facilities themselves.

If they provide you with a hairdryer, an iron, a "Do Not Disturb" sign and a car park, that seems to denote you are a 4* hotel.

Usually the only thing 4* about them is the price...

No, that is a little harsh. Where we are is absolutely fine and reasonably priced too, but for a 4* billing you'd be looking at a far more luxuriant and opulent surroundings and certainly where everything is all inclusive.

Extra for parking the wheels in the (guarded) car park, extra for internet access (how could we deny you, the poor reader?), extra to use the fitness centre and it appears extra for a shower that is fixed to the wall...ours just hangs there limply...

Still, we have landed and we are going to make the most of what, at first glance, seems to be a wonderful town.