Wednesday, 27 December 2006

English TV

Having not seen any over the last nine months, I can honestly say we have not missed it in the slightest.

Television itself is great, but only if there is something worthwhile watching.

Eastenders, Coronation Street, Emmerdale et al are not and I'd be inclined to take the producers of these "soaps"* to court for blatant misuse of the words "Christmas Special".

Special they most certainly ain't!


*Quite an apt name for these "shows"- about as they as entertaining as getting soap in your eye...

Happy New Year

In case we don't get a chance over the next few days, we'd just like to take this opportunity to wish you all the very best in 2007 and hope that the forthcoming year brings you all that you deserve.

We hope to continue with our trip and have the entire year to reach Greece taking whichever route takes our fancy, stopping or moving on as and when we decide.

Who knows- we may even meet up en route somewhere?

Good luck in 2007, everyone- it can only get better.

:-D

Our Trip to the UK

Has seen us arrive in England and spend a few days with my family and friends and now we leave Southend and fly up to Durham to see wifey's clan today.

Three days there and we fly back for the big 40th party (Helen seems to have more birthday's than the Queen!) in Essex again and after a couple of day's recovery, we head off back to Ljubljana (Slovenia's capital city) for a night and some more sight seeing. A 2-3 hour bus journey from there the next day sees us arriving in Izola and after a hectic fortnight on the road/air I for one will be in need of a break.

It's a hard life being a globe trotter...

Something to Drink, Sir?

We have to accept that with the latest threats against security that all airlines and governments have to introduce certain guidelines to minimise the risk of attack and to an extent I can understand the need to ban liquids being taken through into the departure lounges.

However, what I can't accept is the opportunity some retailers are taking to charge obscene amounts for drinks on the other side of the X-Ray machines.

How can a three to four fold increase in price be justified? Shameful.

Airport Security

I'm sure I'm not the only to wonder about this, but do they really need to ask if you have packed your own bag at check in?

It's not exactly a question to tax the most feeble of minds and any self-respecting terrorist is hardly going to break down to confess all under this type of interrogation, is it?

Sunday, 24 December 2006

English Joke

A man walks into the pub and orders a Guinness.

Barmaid says that will be £2.72*.

"Fuck off" says the blurk, "I can buy the whole pub a beer for that in Slovakia!"




It's no joke, I can tell you. :(



*No "please" note- bet she's married to the gadgy at Stansted...

England- Second Impressions

Having done my best to put people off on our travels by systematically killing each country's wonderful language, it never ceases to amaze me how polite, forgiving, kind and generous folk are abroad.

Despite my ham fisted efforts in trying to communicate in the local tongue the good people allow me to make a prize fool out of myself (never a problem I can assure you) and without the need to collapse in fits of laughter or look kindly upon me as the village idiot they patiently help my requests for assistance in outstanding spoken English with good grace, humour and style.

I land at Stansted and ask someone if there was a cash point nearby and got a muttered "dunno mate, 's not my job, innit" as he stomped off.

Even the foreigners speak better English than the English do. Mind you, the English speak better English then the Essex boys do.

Innit?

Surprise Continued- Part II

We got the spare key from the neighbours and then called my parents at my brothers in Hillingdon.

We had told mum that we were travelling to France for Helen's 40th birthday party (she of the big skiing chalet mentioned earlier) and as usual mum was concerned and asked us to call her when we got there.

When we rang to say all was well she asked for the number to call us back on (my parents don't like us to use other people's phone and always call us back) so we gave her her own telephone number.

Because I said it out of sequence, she didn't twig (despite reading it back to me) and then called back to continue the convo, not realising in the slightest she was calling home.

When she asked how the journey had gone, we said there had been a slight detour and that we had had to land in Stansted Airport- to which she said that that was quite a coincidence and still didn't cotton on. How she didn't hear wifey in the background busting a gut from laughing I will never understand.

Finally I had to explain we were in fact calling from her own sitting room and then the penny dropped.


I'd blame the Christmas booze but she doesn't drink...

Top surprise and it's going to be the best family Christmas ever as bruv, sis-in-law and the kids arrive today. Happy days.

On Holiday

In ENGLAND!

Aye- we're back in Blighty and boy, does it feel strange.

We kept it secret to surprise our parents for Christmas and it was sure that...

Who could have predicted that FOG would cause such havoc in a country where 6" of snow manages to close down the entire South East?

Still, we were very lucky compared to some poor people and only had an hour and a half's delay and when we did finally get to Leigh on Sea and rang on the door bell, we certainly got the surprise all right. They weren't in!

Of all the days to go out, they had chosen to vist bruv and watch the pantomime in London with the grand children.


Still, we had the last laugh- see next post.

Wednesday, 20 December 2006

For Our Foreign Readers

Picked up this rather neat on-line web page translator which will help convert our English type into some of the more widely spoken languages; although there appear to be some glaring errors.

What's better is that when it does translate the text it makes even more sense than the guff that I usually type.

Enjoy.

Party Piece

Saw this on TV recently and figured it would be a great trick at parties.

Take a two litre bottle of Diet Coke* and and one "Mentos" mint (chewy mints that have a hard candy shell) and drop it into the bottle.

Leg it behind the kids and laugh.

Maybe a good idea to do this outside.


*Not sure if Coke is necessary but it does have to be a diet fizzy drink.




For those of you with a more cautious nature here's the science bit:

So why do Mentos make diet soda foam so violently? It's a physical reaction, not a chemical one.

Ordinarily, water resists the expansion of bubbles in the soda. Water molecules attract each other strongly, and they link together to form a tight mesh around each bubble. It takes energy to push water molecules away from each other to form a new bubble, or to expand a bubble that has already been formed. The phenomenon is called "surface tension".

Now drop a Mentos into the soda. The gelatin and gum arabic from the dissolving candy disrupts the water mesh, so it takes less work to expand bubbles. At the same time, the roughness of the candy surface provides many little nooks and crannies that allow new bubbles to form more quickly (a process called nucleation). As more of the surface dissolves, both processes accelerate, and foam rapidly begins to form.

Need That Special Flight?

I'll bet even Qatar Airways will fly you out to Morzine, they're that good.

;-)

Like Skiing?

One of our chum's bought a cool, all mod cons chalet in the French Alps earlier this year and is now taking bookings for the forthcoming season. Not just for the skiing fraternity but any winter sport or even summer trekking and cycling (mountain biking and similar) and a whole host of other out doors kinda stuff.

The link is fully endorsed by ktelontour on the main link's page...Helen's Gaff in the French Alps

and also here: http://www.morzineholidays.com/ for further details.

Mention our plug and I'm sure you'll get preferential treatment like a free After Eight on the pillow or something equally as snazzy. :-D

Break a leg...

Monday, 18 December 2006

Wrong Target

From The Times:

A £5,000 reward has been offered to catch militant motorists thought to be behind about 200 attacks on parking meters in Lewes, East Sussex.

More than £300,000 damage has been caused to ticket machines, mainly by small bombs stuffed into coin slots. The attacks started soon after the machines were installed in 2004 and more than a third of the town’s 90 machines have been vandalised.

Police offered a £3,000 reward but the bombers replied by blowing up another machine*. The local council has now added £2,000 to the reward kitty.

Apart from this making me laugh out loud*, I just think this is such a waste.






Why on earth can't they blow up GATSOs?

Birthday's This Month

Emma today, Neil tomorrow and Noel on Christmas day.

Two of my favourite burds share a birthday on Boxing Day too, Helen and Clare and as it's H's 40th we're on the road to meet up with her to help celebrate it properly.

Many congrats to you all and enjoy your special day.

Wind Down to Christmas

With Christmas fast approaching, we're going to be posting a little less over the next fortnight or so as we're off on holiday and we won't have constant access to the internet whilst we're on the road.

I'm sure this will please many of you and gives a new slant to the phrase a "peaceful Christmas to all mankind"...

Have a grand old festive time, whether it's religious or not, but above all have a lot of fun.

Love and best wishes K & T, still on tour and still believing everyday is a dream.

Saturday, 16 December 2006

'Twas The (Politically Correct) Night Before Christmas

With many thanks to becky at girlsbike2 for posting this originally:

'Twas the night before Christmas and Santa's a wreck...
How to live in a world that's politically correct?
His workers no longer would answer to "Elves".
"Vertically Challenged" they were calling themselves.
And labour conditions at the north pole
Were alleged by the union to stifle the soul.
Four reindeer had vanished, without much propriety,
Released to the wilds by the Humane Society.
And equal employment had made it quite clear
That Santa had better not use just reindeer.
So Dancer and Donner, Comet and Cupid,
Were replaced with 4 pigs, and you know that looked stupid!
The runners had been removed from his sleigh;
The ruts were termed dangerous by the E.P.A.
And people had started to call for the cops
When they heard sled noises on their roof-tops.
Second-hand smoke from his pipe had his workers quite frightened.
His fur trimmed red suit was called "Unenlightened."
And to show you the strangeness of life's ebbs and flows,
Rudolf was suing over unauthorised use of his nose
And had gone on Geraldo, in front of the nation,
Demanding millions in over-due compensation.
So, half of the reindeer were gone; and his wife,
Who suddenly said she'd enough of this life,
Joined a self-help group, packed, and left in a whiz,
Demanding from now on her title was Ms.
And as for the gifts, why, he'd ne'er had a notion
That making a choice could cause so much commotion.
Nothing of leather, nothing of fur,
Which meant nothing for him. And nothing for her.
Nothing that might be construed to pollute.
Nothing to aim. Nothing to shoot.
Nothing that clamored or made lots of noise.
Nothing for just girls. Or just for the boys.
Nothing that claimed to be gender specific.
Nothing that's warlike or non-pacific.

No candy or sweets...they were bad for the tooth.
Nothing that seemed to embellish a truth.
And fairy tales, while not yet forbidden,
Were like Ken and Barbie, better off hidden.
For they raised the hackles of those psychological
Who claimed the only good gift was one ecological.
No baseball, no football...someone could get hurt;
Besides, playing sports exposed kids to dirt.
Dolls were said to be sexist, and should be passe;
And Nintendo would rot your entire brain away.
So Santa just stood there, disheveled, perplexed;
He just could not figure out what to do next.
He tried to be merry, tried to be gay, you've got to be careful with that word today.
His sack was quite empty, limp to the ground;
Nothing fully acceptable was to be found.
Something special was needed, a gift that he might
Give to all without angering the left or the right.
A gift that would satisfy, with no indecision,
Each group of people, every religion; Every ethnicity, every hue,
Everyone, everywhere...even you.
So here is that gift, it's price beyond worth...

"May you and your loved ones enjoy peace on earth."

Christmas Cards

ALL greeting cards* as it goes for me.

Can't stand them. Cynical ploy by the big manufacturers to make a heap of cash via emotional blackmail. Cost a packet, stupid cracker style sentimentality and clutter up space trapping dust for nearly a month.

But the tradition of "sending" Christmas cards is particular ridiculous, especially if you happen to work in an office.

Everyone buys a mega box of cheap and nasty cards and then patiently waits for the first one to give out cards. Then it's a mad rush to write yours out and hand them to everyone you work with. Yup, the exact same people you'll be seeing every day until the festive hols kick off.

And you proudly display them on your desk as if it's a sign of how popular you are. But everyone has the identical numbers...

Of course there are sometimes oversights where someone is forgotten, but you nip out to the bogs, fill in the name from your box of spares and rush back in saying it was in your coat pocket and peace is restored.

Unless you don't, for whatever reason, give a card to someone who has sent you one- then it's akin to declaring war and the feud can last for years.

It's so funny to watch.

Best thing I ever did was to make a big declaration to the masses asking them politely to miss me off the office carousel and despite not having sent any cards in decades I still got quite a few from people.

Which was nice.

Happy Christmas everyone...



*Post cards excepted as it's nice to send a small memento from your hols to people just to say "ha, ha- we're here having fun and you're not 'cos your at work" but that is entirely another tale...

It's a Sign of Madness

Can't believe how many people have queried the star sign under my profile- Scorpio.

I've had to patiently explain that it's a in fact a cock up, as the Blog site automatically assigns your zodiacal symbol upon entering your date of birth and that I am actually a Virgo.

(My birthday is 11th September {yup, that day} so stick that in your diary and start saving for the presents...)

It turns out there is quite a simple explanation to the confusion- this site is American and so my DOB should have been entered as 09/11, not the traditional English way of 11/09...


Thanks to the clever one in the family to suss this out, after me having left it wrong for nearly a year now!

Ta muchly; wifey. :-)

Friday, 15 December 2006

Pie Scoffers To Be "Helped"

With Britain's continuing lurch towards obesity, a latest report by a team of health specialists has suggested that “pull yourself together, eat less and exercise more” is an inadequate response to combat the trend.

Instead it has put forward more useful ideas:

  • Printing a helpline number for advice with all clothes sold with a waist of more than 40in for men and 37in for boys, women’s garments with a waist of more than 35in or size 16 or above, and more than 31in for girls

Sure- you buy XXXL kit and naturally you will want to ring a help line...

  • Banning the placement of sweets and fatty snacks at or near shop tills and at children’s eye level

Moving sweets is no deterrent either- people will always find what they are looking for

  • Taxing processed foods that are high in sugar or saturated fat

Surely yet another stealth tax? How is the extra revenue going to be used to combat obesity? Oh, I know- it will pay for:

  • Introducing health checks for all school leavers, both primary and secondary

Whereupon completing the check over the examiner will turn around and offer the advice "pull yourself together, eat less and exercise more"...

  • Allowing new urban roads only if they have cycle lanes

Now this is a better idea- buy lard and get a free bike; that'll motivate the chunkers.

  • Establishing a dedicated central agency responsible for all aspects of obesity

Which no doubt will be staffed by the people who undertook this project- more jobs for the boys.

Whilst I have real sympathy for those with genuine eating disorders I have very little time for the people who expect someone else to sort out their problems for them. You're the one pushing pies into your face so it's down to you to deal with it.

Thursday, 14 December 2006

100 Things We Didn't Know And Probably Don't Want To Either...

As compiled by the BBC news site. Makes light hearted, fun reading:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/4566526.stm

Parlez Vous Francais?

UCL (University College London) has just announced that it will not admit any students from 2012 who have not acquired a modern language GCSE.

Good.

It is more than a tad embarrassing to hear our "Brits abroad" who feel that by shouting loudly in English and gesticulating wildly, it is sufficient to make themselves understood whilst on holiday.

However, wouldn't it better for some of the students to master English first?

Check Out the Small Print


A rather pleasant picture of some ducks we spotted on the river during our visit to Borghetto but if you look a little closer, you can actually see the fish swimming below the surface of the water.

Wash & Go...All the way to the Bank

The Chief Constable of North Yorkshire has come in for criticism for spending of £28,400 on installing a shower for her personal use. The original estimate for the work was £6 500.

My concern does not lie with Senior Plod needing a private shower at a cost of over £28k (although is she having a giraffe*??) but in her credentials of being a copper.

If she can't see she's being robbed blind by the builders, I really question her ability to nick real thieves...




* This is really going to test our non-English speaking readers...

Diet Drinks Abroad

Are pretty nigh on impossible to get, unless you like Diet Coke (usually referred to as "Cola Light".)

In England there are pretty much all the standard drinks offered in the slim line version, but you try finding diet Fanta, Dr Pepper, Sprite or Lilt out here in Europe.

Which is really odd as all the burds here are slim, so what do they drink?

Tuesday, 12 December 2006

Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells

Jingle all the way...

I was under the impression it was only England that continually played piped Christmas jingles in its stores and shops, but oh no, it's the same pretty much everywhere.

Trouble is, it's the same old shite too.


Altogether now, "I wish it could be Christmas everyday..."

Goose Fat

It seems to be selling like no tomorrow since Nigella Lawson plugged it as the wonder ingredient for the Christmas meal.

In particular, goose fat can be used for making crispy spuds because it has a high burning point, thereby allowing ovens to be switched to their highest setting and thus producing the best roast potatoes.

Great, especially if you're a vegetarian...

A Free Lunch

The term derives from the American practice of saloons attracting business by offering a “free lunch” which customers were only eligible for if they bought a beer.

So, as they say, there's no such thing as a free lunch, especially as you have to sing for your supper...

Check Mate, Bishop

The Bishop of Southwark contacted police to report the theft of his briefcase and mobile phone after suffering head inuries in a mugging.

But since the weekend, he has since admitted that he had had a drink or two at a Christmas party on the night in question and he and the diocesan office refuse to answer direct questions about whether he was inebriated or still considered that he had been the victim of the reported crime.

The lack of a clear explanation from the bishop is also causing much embarrassment in the Church as the Bishop has a reputation among junior clergy as a "disciplinarian".

Yeah, yeah- yet another case of the pot calling the kettle black from our "religious" leaders, but I wonder who is going to accept responsibility for wasting Plod's precious time? And people really wonder why followers are leaving the Church in droves?

I Say, I Say, I Say

Two quotes that tickled me:

When they discover the centre of the universe, a lot of people will be disappointed to discover they are not it.

- Bernard Bailey

Typos are very important to all written form. It gives the reader something to look for so they aren't distracted by the total lack of content in your writing.

- Randy K. Milholland


I think the latter is the mantra for here...

Oh Romeo, Romeo...

Forgot to mention that Juliet's (of the Shakespeare pen) balcony is located in Verona and hundreds of people leave notes and messages stuck to the wall.

Funny how people believe a fictional character can have a real place of abode; bit like Sherlock Holmes and 221b Baker Street I suppose.

And Father Christmas in Lapland...

;-)

Monday, 11 December 2006

Us In Italy




Women's Handball

As fascinating as men's, just as technical, maybe not quite as fast but certainly just as aggressive. And having watched the game it has certainly dispelled one falsehood. Burds can throw properly...

Our team won a very tight game by four goals eventually, having momentarily gone behind at the beginning of the second half. Very exciting to watch and highly entertaining- especially if you have a father, of a daughter who is playing, and you're sitting next to him.

I think I've picked up some right choice phrases on what to call a dodgy ref in both Italian and Slovenian...

Weekend Away in Verona

We were very kindly invited to join our hosts in a visit to Verona for the weekend, as their eldest daughter is studying at university there and she also plays handball for the local team. Naturally, being new converts to the game it was a great opporunity to get another fix and we readily agreed.

The 300 km drive whizzed past as we matched any Italian drivers for speed and passing opportunities and before long we arrived at big and spacious apartment, with huge rooms and high ceilings. It was lovely and only about 10 km from the town centre where we headed off to check out the Christmas markets.

We couldn't get over the crowds; people everywhere and much, much busier than the last time we had been there, in the Spring a few years ago.

Lots of little booths offering all types of Christmas nibbles, the amphitheatre standing proudly illuminated in the centre of the town and everyone smiling and happy. Plenty of things to be happy about, including with the temperature- a mild 10 degs C at 10.00 o'clock at night.

Top evening out and a great way to begin wifey's birthday weekend.

Friday, 8 December 2006

Slovenian Post Offices

We needed to buy a few postcards, (all tourists do this, don't they?) get some stamps, obtain a photocopy of a document (for our wonderful UK tax office), send a fax (to our wonderful UK tax office who cannot/will not correspond via email despite us being out of the country) and post a letter today.

So with a sleeping bag, sandwiches for a week and a couple of books, we headed off to our local post office with the prospect of a long, long wait.

Blimey, a short queue and a beaming smile from a lady, who managed to do all these tasks without so much as a re-direction to another counter and we were out within 15 minutes. Fan-bleedin'-tastic!

Are you listening, Leigh on Sea? No of course not, you're off on your break...

Slovenian Banks

We've been using the local banks over the last few weeks and it's been a wonderful experience.

No queuing, no language problem due to excellent spoken English (obviously not mine...) with polite, courteous and friendly service.

A real pleasure indeed.

Wifey's Birthday

This weekend, and whilst it's just not on to divulge a lady's age, let's just say life began last year for her.

So, we're off to have a fun few days away in Verona, Italy and we shan't be back on here until early next week.

Hope your weekend is going to be as much fun as ours.

Ciao...

Thursday, 7 December 2006

Handball Pictures





The place was packed and yes, that is a band in the crowd...

One thing I particularly enjoyed was that despite the physical aspect of the game, if there was an injury (and we certainly saw quite a few!) the opposing team would lift the injured player off the court.

Slightly out of sync as we couldn't upload photos recently. All better again now though.

Wednesday, 6 December 2006

The Ale is Off

An English Ale ("Santa’s Butt Winter Porter") depicting a picture of Santa holding a pint has been banned from one of the American states. The reason given was that it was deemed “undignified and improper” and that it may encourage children to drink.

I thought it was illegal to buy/drink alcohol under 18/21 anyway, so that hardly makes sense.

Or perhaps our Septic cousins just wouldn't understand what a proper beer is all about? ;-)

24 Hour Plod Patrols

In yet another trial (an 18 month review to be undertaken in some of the London boroughs) police will patrol the streets on foot at night to introduce a 24-hour community coverage, costing the tax payer ~ £3 million.

Good idea, but surely what used to happen in the good old days anyway?

Crash, Bang, Wallop

In the last seven odd years, there have been over 22 000 fraudulent “car accidents” resulting in payouts of up to £30 000 a time.

Innocent drivers are targeted and involved in deliberate collisions with scheming con men/women with insurance companies having to cough for the damage.

This actually happened to one of wifey's friends- a male driver goaded her into a speed chase and then stood on his brakes with her ploughing into the back of his car. In the eyes of the law, she was at fault and so her insurance paid out on the damage, plus compensation etc.

Lovely world we live in, eh?

On the Box

Forgot to mention that the handball game we saw on the weekend was televised and we happened to chance upon the game later in the evening.

And there we were, second row from the front pretty much all the way through the game. I'm sure the cameraman was fixated by wifey's balloon* waving.

Just like to thank everyone concerned for getting our tickets as well, especially #33 who gave up his two complimentary seats for us (our host knows him personally) and scored a couple of blinding penalties.


*Yes, balloon is exactly what I said...

Follow Ups

To two posts made on here some time ago.

  • The Government has stopped any prospect of big pay rises for MPs. :-)

  • Whilst cod is to be given "greater protection", an over all ban on fishing for the endangered species is not going to happen. :-(

Handball, Ref

Innocently commenting that we had never been to a handball match before (very popular in Europe but it's never really taken off in the UK) our, as ever, genial hosts managed to get us two tickets to see a men's match in the "European Champion's League" on the weekend.

The place was a sell out with over 5000 people coming to watch the home side, sponsored by "Gold Cub Casino" against the mighty Spanish champions, "Portland San Antonio".

The atmosphere was deafening in such a small indoor arena but the hour's game flashed by so quickly it was hard to recall the clock being stopped for the fouls, penalties and Time Outs. Very exciting game, very tough (body contact is permissible) and very one sided.

The Spanish side dominated and won by over 10 goals but this was mainly due to the fact their side contained many national players, including the best player in the world, a Croatian.

Outstanding day out and a sport that we shall most definitely go back and watch again.

The rules, as fully explained can be found here:

http://homepage.eircom.net/~ioha/senior/rules/senior_rules_p1.html

Tuesday, 5 December 2006

Woody's Birthday

Happy Birthday, Ian!

We've been meeting up with the "Lookers Crew" for several years; a couple of hours every Friday and been having a grand old time of it. Today is Ian's day and I'll bet he thinks we've forgotten. Well, we haven't!

Hoping you have a great time and we'll be thinking of you and absent friends.

Sunday, 3 December 2006

Karsten; Our Deutscher in England

For the long term followers of our Blog you will no doubt be aware of the hugely popular contributions our chum Karsten provides with his comments to some of our posts.

It just occurred to me that we also have quite a few German speaking/reading "fans" of this site (family commitments really are wonderful, aren't they?) who may be interested in his own Blog.

It's a pity it is pretty much entirely in German as it is not only well written and presented, but also dispels the myth about Germans lacking a sense of humour.

So, cop a look- it's well worth the effort:

http://www.inselblick.co.uk/ or from the link on the main Blog page: Our Deutscher in England

Yet More Snouts in the Trough

Our Members of Parliament feel that they are doing such a good service for the people they represent that they have requested a pay increase of 66% to bring their salaries in line with what General Practitioners and council chief executives earn- £100 000/year.

Erm, here's a thought. If you don't like the salary how about clearing out your desk and finding another job?

Battle of the Sexes; Part 3471

"There are twice as many men as women with an IQ of 120-plus" so reads yet another "valid" report into general cognitive ability between the burds and the blurks.

Why on earth are we still wasting time, money and resources on research of this nature? Does anyone care? What good will these "conclusions" bring? Haven't we got better things to consider?






Still, I suppose it's valuable ammo up the boozer for the lads, eh?

Living in Sin

Currently, if "co-habitees" part and go their separate ways, partners (unlike a married couple) can only claim maintenance for their children and not for themselves. A share in the property may be claimed but this usually incurs an expensive, complex and long-winded legal battle.

The Law Commission however, is to undertake a sweeping review of the current laws and it is likely to recommend that couples who have lived together for two years or so, have a claim on each other’s pension, property and income if they split up and address the current shortcomings of property and inheritance rights in the event of death of a partner.

The final report is due to be published next year but legislation should be amended as soon as it can to give co-habitees new legal rights and the proposals would almost certainly apply to unmarried couples- including same sex couples not in civil partnerships.

And about bloody time too- why should non married couples and same sex couples be discriminated against?

A Nice Cup of Tea

Apparently one in six Britons will die without ever having tasted their national drink; tea.

And there was me thinking Britain's national drink was lager...

Saturday, 2 December 2006

Right Turn, Clyde...

A couple of ambulance drivers using a Sat Nav unit turned a 20 minute trip into a 8 hour journey as they drove 200 miles (one way) out of their way following the directions given to them by the GPS (global positioning system).

Instead of driving from Ilford to Brentwood (London to Essex) they ended up in Manchester before they realised their mistake and headed back. Luckily the patient they were carrying was not in any danger and he had a comfortable journey.

They have my sympathies- I'd have ended up in Newcsatle via Colchester...

Sunny Side Up?

As we all know, drop a piece of freshly buttered toast off your plate and it will land that side down right into the hairy carpet.

Scientific test revealed that in approximately 80% of the cases you'll end up with jam/Marmite/butter/marmalade/whatever on the floor if you fumble your toasty snack but the reason for it?

It was deduced that for the average height of a table, the piece of toast is only able to spin through 180 degrees on its way down and so to avoid this unfortunate scenario they recommend that you either double the height of your table or place your toast butter side down on your plate.

Science; wonderful stuff...

It's a Right Pain in the Behind

It seems that with "obesity" running riot throughout the UK, it's the good old injection into the bum that is going to suffer.

As our backsides get bigger, the favoured area to inject is no longer reachable with the standard, 3 cm syringe. It just cannot penetrate the thicker layers of fat and so the medication is not working properly.

To combat this, it will need a 5 cm needle (now get a ruler and compare sizes!)

So, the choice is yours- loose weight or deal with a bigger prick up the arse...

Follow the Yellow Brick Road

Pay as you go roads are the way forward but at what cost? Perhaps at £1.30 per mile!

Of course you would expect better quality roads and all this within 10 years, so says a report commissioned by the Government.

The report also accepted that many people would pay more to drive at peak times because they would be unable to switch to public transport or travel off-peak to get to work. It further predicted that the "pay as you go" scheme would reduce but not eliminate the need for more roads suggesting that 1,800 miles of motorways and 2,500 miles of principal "A" roads were required between 2015 and 2025.

Now, would this form of tax take the place of fuel duty and road tax or be in addition to them? No mention of that so far...

Friday, 1 December 2006

Smoking Ban

We're all aware smoking is due to be banned in public places in the UK on 1st July 2007.

We all know it's dangerous to health, very expensive and quite off putting to non-smokers.

What I can't understand though is why it is being banned in pubs?

Fags and beer go hand in hand and if people want to smoke over a pint or a glass of wine, let them. Sure, a smoky pub is not pleasant for non-smokers, but why not have smoking pubs and non-smoking pubs and let the landlords/managers decide the smoking policy in their own establishments?

Why does the Government insist on knee jerk reactions of implementing bans as the first resort?

Or, more to the point, if it is so dangerous/anti-social, why not ban tobacco entirely?




Perhaps they make too much money out of it...?

Bliss...

As you are aware we arrived early in Slovenia and the accommodation we had arranged wasn't quite ready for us.

However, thanks to our hosts and their hard work we were able to move into this rather excellent self contained flat immediately with pretty much all the mod cons except for a bed.

We've been using a sofa bed for the last three weeks and whilst it has been perfectly adequate, it's not quite the same.

Yesterday our new bed arrived and it has to be the best night's kip we've had since Slovakia.

It's so good that wifey is still testing it as we speak and no way am I going to try and get here out of it for at least another few hours.

The simple pleasures in life are often the best.

1st December 2006

Another month begins and another month we've completed away from England, our 8th so far.

Looking back on it it really has been so very simple.

Jumped into the car on 1st April, drove across Holland and into Germany. Spent about three wonderful months there with friends and family (and of course the World Cup) and then we had our first real experience of Poland.

We couldn't have been more delighted to dispel some of the myths surrounding this country. The Polish people are friendly, polite, helpful and happy. The country is amazing and the economy really suits the budget traveller. Another three months there and we continued on into Slovakia, a country neither of us had been to before.

Another great discovery and just as lovely as Poland. We both regret not being able to stay longer, but we were mindful of the forthcoming winter weather and so had to leave after a six weeks to avoid the potentially harsh driving conditions.

Our last memory of Slovakia was our encounter with Plod who striped us for about fifty quid for a "red light" violation (despite there not even being a traffic light) and then proceeding to give us a escorted tour through the town so that we could find the motorway. Nice work fellahs, if a tad expensive...

Our predicted four/five week stay in Hungary was cut short after rather poor accommodation in Budapest (see photos elsewhere) and having left the capital we did intend to stop off en route but before we knew it we'd driven through and found ourselves in Slovenia.

The weather had changed and it was like Spring. When we arrived in Izola, nestling alongside the Adriatic Coast we just thought "wow!" and wandering around in just a T shirt in the middle of November made it easy to see why wifey had chosen this resort as our winter stop over.

In fact, we like it so much we're staying on an extra month and we will now be here until...1st April 2007, exactly one year since we began our road trip. How's that for coincidence?

Thursday, 30 November 2006

It appears that B & Q have dropped a bit of a clanger with their choice of Christmas jingles in one of their shops.

Instead of festive tracks piped into the shop via their in store sound system, customers heard an "X" rated song from the wonderful (yet very naughty) cartoon series South Park contained on a Christmas CD.

Predictably Mr & Mrs Havenolife were outraged and have complained bitterly at the offence caused, prompting an apology from the management.

So much for Christmas being a time for forgiving then...

111- a Fine Innings

Britain's oldest person, born in 1895 has died this week, aged 111.

Just imagine what she has personally lived through in all that time? Incredible.

My Head Hurts

A recent survey has revealed that over 200,000 British workers are hung over on any given day and that 1 in 5 18-25 year olds (19%) go into work hungover at least once a month.

It's going to be a very merry Christmas for some then...

It's All a Game, Innit?

A most interesting little snippet came my way yesterday, and that was that the game of "foosball" was invented in mid-16th-century Germany, predating football by nearly 200 years.

Perhaps that explains why the Germans can play the sport...








...and England can't.

Tuesday, 28 November 2006

On the Sick?

A chap claiming more than £30,000 in incapacity benefit and disability living allowance over a two year period has been caught out on film after a lengthy undercover investigation, which showed him limbering up for a martial arts class that he was about to take.

The man holds a 7th dan in Karate (one of the highest belts on offer) and a 6th dan in Jujitsu and he is regularly consulted by the film industry and the police force for his specialist advice.

Having pleaded guilty to the charges he could now face up to six month in gaol.




Yeah, but who's going to tell him?

Are You Sitting Comfortably?

Then I'll begin...

"Sit up straight"- how often have you heard this? Whether at home, at school or even in your office.

Well, as ever it seems that we have been misinformed all along and based on MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) research, we should be slouching and slumping as sitting up straight puts unnecessary strain on the spine which could result in chronic back pain due to slipped discs or trapped nerves.

So whilst we're at it, carry on doing that as well- you won't go blind...

Monday, 27 November 2006

The Cost of a Pint

The price of a pint of Stella Artois (loosely described as a "premium" lager by some) has gone down to a mere 11p/100ml* at Morrisons as the cut throat Christmas deals start to kick in weeks earlier than in previous years.

A spokesman for the brewers Scottish & Newcastle UK (which makes Foster’s, Kronenbourg and John Smith’s) said “We continue to despair.”


So would I pal, brewing that shite- I wouldn't wash my feet in the stuff. :-D






*We're not impressed anyway- we were paying 36p/500ml in Slovakia and this was in a pub.

Sorry, Can't Resist!

Yes, I know I'm becoming a GATSO bore, but I can't help myself...

Our man Plod decided he was feeling peckish and fancied a take away meal. On his way to the Chinese restaurant to satisfy his hunger pangs, he was flashed by a Safety Scamera whilst driving his Plod Mobile at 48 mph in a 40 mph limit zone.

Instead of copping (sic) three points and a fine, he was let off by Magistrates because he said he was responding to a serious RTA (road traffic accident). When he heard other units had already responded to the alert though, he decided to abort his journey and went to the takeaway instead.

However, the court heard he had not been called to respond to the crash, did not have sirens or blue lights on and was not taking the quickest route to the scene.

How does that work then? Surely not one law for them and one law for us?


And on the subject of Dibble, Scameras and the like, a joke that made me laugh:

Apple Computer Inc's new product:

It's a beautifully designed blackbox recorder that automatically emails the police when you break the speed limit giving details of where and when, how fast etc.

It's called the apple iplod.

:-D

Billy No Mates

It transpires that Britons have an average of 54 friends recent research reveals, up 64% on 2003 figures.

I didn't realise I was so popular...

Taxi Please- I am Unarmed, Honest.

Britain’s most difficult jobs are supposedly driving a black cab through London, working on a trawler in the North Sea and felling trees in the Great Yorkshire Forest.

These jobs were ranked by risk of death or injury, working hours, skill levels and both mental and physical stress.

Sorry, do I see driving a London black cab at number one? Risk of death, skill levels and mental and physical stress being greater than trawling in the North Sea or chopping down trees?

No wonder they can con tourists out of large fares if they can convince the researchers of this…

I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here

Er, no you're not and please stay.

Triskadecaphobia

Is the fear of the number 13 (one of the few "easy" answers I learnt from playing Trivial Pursuits many a year ago).

And it now transpires that Friday 13th is not the unluckiest day after all.

A study of some million claims by the AA has found out that more people are likely to have an accident on Monday 27th than any other date.


Damn, there goes my banker question and a "cheese". :(

Bye, Bye.... Eh?

A very tenuous title to introduce the topic of the Government and its support to finance a move away from "A" levels to an "international diploma" which could be the death knoll for the traditional "gold standard" advanced level examinations.

The International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma will require pupils to study six subjects, which have to include maths, science and a language. In addition pupils have to complete a 4,000-word essay, study the theory of knowledge and complete voluntary or community projects.

Personally I think the IB sounds a much better, rounded type of qualification in comparison to the "A"s. Especially as it is becoming increasingly more difficult to recognise our top students as they all appear to get first class grades.

However, it will still be a sad day if the "A" levels do eventually bite the dust.

A Rinki-Dink-Pink

The latest weapon for Lancashire Dibble to help reduce the rise of street gangs and crime is to install pink floodlights near known trouble spots.

Plod believes the pink lighting will create a "calming influence" and as it supposedly accentuates skin blemishes such as zits*, our Fuzzy Friends hope it will deter mobs of teenage gangs from roaming the areas.

You can just imagine it:

"'Ere, you gahn dahn the yoof centre for a bit of 'anging out wiv the lads an' then maybes off to the offie for a bit of shop lifting and granny bashing, innit?"

"Nah, mate- got a spot on me chin so I'm staying in"


Sheesh...



* Lucky these magic pink lights can illuminate hidden features behind hoods too, eh?

To My TWO Sisters-in-Law

Happy Birthday to Sharon today and Sam tomorrow. How's that for a coincidence?

Have a grand old time of it ladies, and enjoy your day.

True Dove

Monday, 27th November sees our top pals Steve & Ira celebrate their wedding anniversary. My calculations make it 12 (but it could be 13?) years but whatever the number, it's a fine achievment in this day and age when all around seem to be going their separate ways.

Many congrats people- we'll be raising a glass or two to you but it won't be Vodka, that I do promise you.

Have a great day and we wish you many, many happy times ahead of you.
















Even if we did miss out on the Rochford Beer Festival for your wedding day...gits...

Saturday, 25 November 2006


As it says on the tin, this is exactly where we live- ~10 seconds from the Marina and it really is a good as it looks on the picture. I could rattle on but once again, the experts do it far better so over to them:
Izola is old fishing town with the rich history. With the pleasant position and the marine is also important nautical centre. The first step toward the tourism started in 1820 when the thermal water was discovered. The town is important by a fishing industry. The first fishing industry factory at the Adriatic coast was built near Izola. Interesting: Latin name for island is *izola* and Izola use to be an island which was connected to the mainland with a stony bridge. The town was encompassed with the wall which was at the beginning of the 19th century pulled down and the material was used to cover sea between the island and mainland. Izola use to be known as a town of the rebels. It has also declared Independence in 1253 and became a town with the proper laws and authority for a short period. In the 13th and 14th century there were also a "town wars" with the Piran and Koper.
We've been to Koper already and it too is lovely and plan to see Piran soon. However, Izola is BRILLIANT!

This Made Me Chuckle

Two Indian Heroin addicts get mixed up and inject themselves with curry powders by mistake.

They both get taken to hospital where one ended up with a dodgy tikka and the other's in a korma.

*guffaw*

Test Match Series: Australia v England

Once again we're off to a flying start:

23rd November 2006 at Brisbane, Day 3 of 5

Australia won the toss and decided to bat:

Australia 1st Innings
602 for 9 (155.0 overs)

Australia 2nd Innings
181 for 1 (40.0 overs) and still to carry on batting

England 1st Innings
157 all out (61.1 overs)


What I can't quite figure out is why Australia didn't enforce the follow on? Not that it will make any difference- England are going to get blown out of this Test, no matter what. :(

Quick of Mind, Healthy of Body

The latest study in "stuff"* has revealed that people with slower reflexes and er....hum, erm...bad memories are likely to die of a heart attack.

Fine by me if I'm over 100 at the time.

People who have slower reaction times and bad memories are more likely to die from a heart attack, an extensive study indicates.

*"Stuff" = more useless studies at concluding the bleedin' obvious

Mobile Phone Facts

On the subject of mobiles (see below) some oddities:

· The first mobile phone cost £2,000 and was the size of a briefcase

· The comedian Ernie Wise made the first call on January 1, 1985

· The first text message was sent in 1993

· 140 million texts were sent on July 1, 2006, when England was knocked out of the World Cup

· 1,700 mobile phones are thrown away every hour

· A phone is stolen in Britain every 12 seconds

· 90 million unused phones are lurking in drawers and cupboards — together they would weigh 11,250 tonnes

· The first mobile battery lasted only 20 minutes before it conked out

All facts from pillfed from The Times- ta.

It's Good to McTalk

A mobile phone went missing in 2004 when the Scottish Parliament moved from its temporary headquarters in Edinburgh and relocated to its new home in Holyrood (you'd think at a cost of £431 million they'd get the spelling correct though).

Trouble is, no one bothered to report the loss and it was only until the service provider alerted Parliament officials to the rapidly mounting bill that it was noticed as gone.

Total cost of the bill (not even including VAT)?

£46,200 !

Friday, 24 November 2006

About Time!

Lewis Hamilton, 21, is expected to get his first drive with McLaren Mercedes at the start of the next Grand Prix season in Melbourne.

Nothing remarkable in that you my think but the fact that he is black is; he is the first F1 driver.

Good.

Rumours that the 2008 season is to have a woman driver have proven to be optimistic though.



The rear view mirror is still too small to apply make up properly and the cock pits are simply to tight to fit a hand bag in...

Thursday, 23 November 2006

A Game of Two Halves?

A dispute between two neighbours over a game of football in their communal gardens ended up at the High Court, leaving the taxpayer to foot (sic) a £50 000 bill.

Mr X was taken to court after he was spotted kicking a ball around with his 5 year old son in their residents-only garden in London by his neighbour Miss Y, who claimed that he was breaching local bye-laws*.

In a private prosecution, Miss Y lost her claim as the magistrate ruled that the father and his son were not technically "teams" and therefore had done nothing wrong. Miss Y was not satisfied and appealed against the ruling by going to the High Court where she successfully challenged the initial ruling. However, the Lord Justice said that Mr X's acquittal would stand, as a retrial would not be in the public interest.

As Miss Y had technically won her case by proving the pair were playing football, she was not ordered to pay any costs, leaving the bill with the taxpayer. Speaking after the case, Miss Y said she was 'horrified' at the outcome and defended her actions by stating that " this is an ornamental garden and not a recreation ground and football ruins the grass." She added that "The Court had got the decision right, but still found against me. This has set a dangerous precedent- he court services are a travesty."

A legal source said Miss Y while "well-meaning", was "somewhat vexatious and someone who has multiple legal proceedings going on against numerous people in the area".

The best bit about this ridiculous story (aside from wishing Miss Y would have had to pay her own costs) is that since the case, the bye-laws have been changed to allow ball games between parents and children in the garden.

Sweet!

*The prosecution had been brought under the 1863 Town Gardens Protection Act, and was based on the fact that football was banned in the bye-laws governing activities in the Arundel and Elgin ornamental gardens.

Sad Time For Pie Eaters

A pie eating contest in Wigan, where competitors had to eat as many meat and potato pies in three minutes has finally bowed to pressure from the "healthy eating/good diet brigade" and changed the rules to ensure they are doing their bit to combat obesity.

Now it is a competition to see who can eat a single pie in the quickest time and also, for the first time, vegetarian pies will be allowed.

Can't see what the fuss is as surely everyone knows that a well balanced diet is a pie in each hand...

And Still on the Chrimble Theme

A teacher dropped a rather big bombshell to her 9-10 year old class when she told them Father Christmas did not exist.

The school in question has now had to change its curriculum to ensure this will not happen again, but for the kids in question that is one ruined Christmas with some pupils leaving the lesson in tears.

The teacher was explaining how Christmas is celebrated across the world and talking about the Muslim festival of Eid when she made her rather unfortunate statement.

The school policy now, when questioned, will be to admit that "I'm not sure. Go home and ask your parents."

Er, not much of a teacher if you don't even know if Santa exists or not then.

And what happens if questioned on the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Rabbit?

Wednesday, 22 November 2006

The "C" Word Rears Its Head

The average mother supposedly spends thirteen whole days preparing for Christmas, and yet the average Christmas meal rarely lasts little more than two hours.

Here's a tip- get a pizza in and open another bottle...

Slowing Down Time

Contrary to popular belief and scientific evidence, it is possible to slow down time- up to four times at least.

Don't believe me? Try doing some exercise for fifteen minutes and tell me honestly if it doesn't feel like an hour.

Unisex Toilets

Quite common place outside of the UK but it seems to be rather unpopular in England. Why?

All the disabled toilets are unisex, so why aren't there male and female facilities for disabled folk?

Rather odd, don't you think?

John Prescott...

John Prescott still costs the taxpayer almost £2 million a year and despite being stripped of departmental responsibilities, his office has 18 staff and its own headquarters in Whitehall.

No comment from me, just felt you'd like to know where some of our money ends up...

Sticky Fingers

Once again the weary motorist is being targeted for another pilot scheme.

Dibble (from ten different forces) will be requesting your fingerprints, to be taken at the roadside and then checked against a national database under "Project Lantern".

The Police Minister, said that the scheme would be "voluntary, and data would not be retained."
Sure, sure. So declining the kind offer will naturally not make you a marked person for the future and of course everyone believes him about not retaining records because ministers never lie, right?

However, should the scheme prove successful, it will be made law...

I Do. No, I Don't Anymore

A new divorce law is being introduced today that will avoid blame and acrimonious allegations if married partners decide to call it a day.

The “collaborative law”, is intended to do away with the old chestnut "irreconcilable differences" and will aim to preserve dignity in divorce on both sides if people have simply grown apart but wish to part amicably.

Nice one- not only will it speed things up but it should also reduce costs, so the only losers will be the solicitors. Now that does make a change.

Speed Scameras- Sorry; SAFETY Cameras

A recent study has found that women view speed cameras very differently from men. The fairer sex are much more likely to comply with them, twice as likely to want more cameras in their area and more willing to believe that they save lives.

Thus proving once again that there really is a huge gulf between the sexes...

Olympic Games 2012

It seems that the "final" bill to host the games in London will now exceed £7 billion.

The original budget estimate was no where near enough and has had to be increased by another 40%.

Why is it that the people who are responsible for calculating these costs are always so far out? I mean 40% is a long way off the mark, isn't it?

They are paid to be expert in these matters and yet it would seem they'd be better off just sticking a pin into a list of figures.

Perhaps this is how weather forecasters begin their careers?

Tuesday, 21 November 2006

Water on the Rocks?

Plans are afoot to for water companies to impose meters onto millions of customers and the customer is to pay for them- and this should come into effect next year.

OK, we know we have to save water (pretty much anything has to be used conservatively nowadays) and personally I think a water meter is a good idea too. We had one installed a few years ago and our water bills halved; at least.

However, why should the end user have to pay? We haven’t changed the deal. That should be down to the water supplier.

But what really itches my chin, is that there is no refund on your bill when the water companies do not supply the water you want. They quite happily collect the dosh through the good times and yet when they impose hose pipe bans, they don’t give you a rebate!

And to make matters worse they are guilty of the biggest wastes of water through leaking or poorly maintained pipe works. Why don’t they get regulated on this and be held to account?

As Safe as a Safe

Another wonderful thing about living here is how trustworthy everyone is.

We rarely lock the front door- perhaps at night.

This is sooo good. :-)

Monday, 20 November 2006

Happy Birthday Webby

Another year under the belt tomorrow and still going strong. The body of a well used boxer and yet the mind of a sniggering school boy- outstanding.

Congrats, and we'll be lifting a glass to you on your day.

Nice to See You, to See You Nice

An NHS trust is offering nurses free cappuccinos and chocolate chip biscuits to encourage them to smile at patients. A London hospital introduced the reward scheme after surveys raised concerns that nurses were not being nice enough to the sick.

Matrons give out special "thank-you" cards to nurses who are seen smiling at patients or relatives, chatting with patients, having a positive attitude or doing something to make someone’s day better.

The cards are then entered in a draw and nurses whose cards are picked out are entitled to free coffee and biscuits at the hospital cafe.


Well, call me old fashioned, but perhaps if nurses were paid properly in the first place they may actually be happy about coming to work and this would reflect in their approach to the work.

The M25

The cost of widening the M25 will be an estimated extra £3.4 billion and the government is to pay a consortium of road builders more than £5 billion to widen the M25, even though the work will cost only £1.6 billion. The Highways Agency has said that about 63 miles of the 118-mile road will be expanded from six to eight lanes at a cost of £79m a mile.

The scheme will become Britain’s biggest-ever private finance initiative (PFI*), a system under which private firms fund and build infrastructure projects such as roads and hospitals then “rent or lease” them back to the government.

The widening of the M25 could, however, be the most controversial PFI, especially when the price is compared with the £29m a mile it costs to build a brand new motorway.

Under the scheme the M25 will have at least eight lanes for all its length except in the western sections around Heathrow where it already has up to 12 lanes. The 200,000 vehicles a day flowing through the busiest sections will rise to an estimated 250,000 once work is completed in 2016.

So, how does it feel to the rest of the country to pay for improving the M25 which it may rarely, if ever, use?




*PFI schemes were introduced by the last Conservative government to shift the risk of cost overruns and delays on to private companies and to enable big infrastructure investments without government borrowing. In reality, however, private companies only proved willing to take on such risks if offered the chance of huge profits at the taxpayers’ expense.

Such schemes have been widely criticised as poor value because contractors can generate huge profits by charging the government interest payments and capital repayments, all at the taxpayers’ expense.

Internet Reviews

Up and down sides to the internet.

With it so readily available to so many of us, it is no wonder that lots of people now choose to research things on line. Whether it's checking for flights, somewhere to stay, where to dine- the list of DIY information gathering continues to grow.

There is however a flip side to this ease of information finding. How accurate is it and can you trust it?

A recent investigation by The Sunday Times has discovered that hotels and restaurants are drumming up business by posting glowing reviews of themselves. It noted that:

Proprietors describing hotels as “outstanding”, “excellent” and “charming” without declaring their interest in the business.

Marketing executives to top British hotels recommending perks be offered to customers in return for a promise of a good review.

Hotel star ratings on well-known websites that could be easily “ramped” with just a few e-mails from bogus customers.

Among the customer reviews was an outstanding endorsement for a hotel in Scotland which failed to make clear that it had been written by its proprietor. It gushed: “My parents stayed many years ago and said what a lovely spot this place has. They were so right! . . . Well done to the staff, who really were charming.”

Mr "X" said: “Maybe I shouldn’t have done it . . . I don’t think it’s that big a deal.”

Another undeclared proprietor, posted a message on a different website raving about his “stunning new pub restaurant” in West Yorkshire.

He later said: “It wasn’t my intention to mislead anyone . . . I think it was a bit of a misinterpretation.”

Many websites appear to do little to vet the reviews written by customers and prove easy to manipulate with e-mails. One London hotel was slammed by a customer who complained about its noisy rooms and “miserable” beds.

It took just four glowing e-mails to lift its ranking from a poor 1.2 out of 5 to 4.2, elevating it to among the capital’s top establishments.


Now as you might be aware, we are in the road quite a bit and we (well, wifey, as it goes) do most of our research via the net, quite probably from some of these sites, and we have certainly wondered as to how a certain review was achieved when we've arrived and physically seen the place.

Still, with the good always comes the bad...and that is half the fun.

The Next Census- Due 2011

It would seem that the next census for the UK is to be a little more intrusive than previous years with an attempt to discover just how much people earn. This was previously dropped from the 2001 questionnaire.

People will be asked to provide details of their income, with the last range of salaries being those earning £37,000 or more. They will also be required to tick boxes to explain its sources.

Another new question will ask people about their proficiency in English, Welsh, British Sign Language and other languages.

For the first time the census will also ask whether respondents are English, Welsh, Scottish, Northern Irish, Irish or another nationality, and the date of their entry into Britain.

This is due to undergo a trail run next year in selected areas and 20 000 homes will be targetted to determine the response.



Hhhhhmmmm- I know what my response will be...

An Article By Richard Littlejohn

Some people love him, others hate him- whatever your feelings for this journalist/TV presenter, this really made me chuckle. Reproduced in its entirety:

Possibly the most bizarre television show I ever presented (actually, there's no "possibly" about it) featured a troupe of stripping dwarfs who modelled themselves on the Full Monty. They were called the Half Monty.

Now, in what the Observer calls a "boundary-breaking" documentary, a team of disabled men are to get their kit off for the cameras. They call themselves The Crippendales.

The programme is being promoted with the tagline "They might not have legs, but do they have the balls".

I know pretty much anything goes on TV these days, but if I'd gone to Greg Dyke a few years ago, when I was working at LWT, with an idea for a show starring stark naked, differently-abled men in wheelchairs, he wouldn't only have shown me the door, he'd probably have called the police.

The Crippendales is supposed to be a serious film which challenges preconceptions about the sexuality of disabled people. Of course it is.

When we put the Half Monty on camera a few years ago, Dawn Airey - then running Channel Five - wondered whether this was an enlightened piece of equal opportunities programming or were we just having a laugh?

We were having a laugh.

Sunday, 19 November 2006

Dibble Too Efficient?

A POLICE force has been accused of ordering officers to stop logging intelligence about drug dealers because they had already met their annual target for arrests.

Two divisions within North Wales Police were “instructed” not to enter the information on the force computer as further arrests would lead to a higher target the next year, according to the report from HM Inspectorate of Constabulary.

The force is led by Chief Constable Richard Brunstrom, who has been criticised in the past for a relatively liberal attitude to drug policy and his crusade against speeding motorists.


The report, which was generally favourable to the force, also said: “The force continues to feature in national media stories that do not always add to its reputation, and chief officers need to be vigilant to avoid becoming the story.”

A spokesman for North Wales Police said the information in the report was based on individual officers’ perceptions, and not official policy.

Article lifted from The Times a while ago but made me wonder not just about the alleged fixing of figures, but more so how Plod seems to feel that a speeding motorist is more of a criminal than a drug supplier?

But it's the last line that cracks me up. "Individual officer's perceptions". So, discretion in other words?

And there was me thinking the law is the law...

Beer, Beer, Wonderful Beer

Landlords have been requested by Reading University not to sell cut-price drinks to its undergraduates in an effort to curb their drunken behaviour.

Some bar staff have been accused of serving drinks to students who are “obviously drunk” and the university called on landlords to exercise a degree of responsibility.

Aside from the futility of this exercise, the most obvious point of this is that what the landlords are doing is in fact illegal. It is against the law to serve liquor to anyone appearing to be under the influence of alcohol and the licencee runs the risk of having his boozer shut down if found guilty.


Still, when was the last time you heard anyone saying "I'm sorry pal, I simply cannot take another £2.50 off you for yet another pint of ale, you've clearly had far too much already"...

Songs

Although a fan of music for primarily the music and not the lyrics, I do feel that lyrics enhance the pleasure of a song. No question.

So, do non-English speaking people get the same enjoyment as people who can "parlais Anglais" when listening to English/American music?


Makes me wonder.

Thankfully

I have now finished reading "Dark Vengence" and I still cannot understand how this was allowed into print.

Maybe this was aimed at the mentally challenged to allow themselves to feel good about reading something without pictures?

Still, don't take my word for it- if anyone wants it, I can send it over; although is it worth the price of a stamp? I suppose that it could double the value of the book.

Nah, I'll keep it in case we run out of bog roll...

Saturday, 18 November 2006

Jobsworth

A driver who stopped on a yellow line when his wife was dying from a heart attack was issued with a parking ticket, despite the intervention of a passer-by and a note in the car window saying that the driver and his wife were in an ambulance.

OK, we all know some people "try it on" but come on.

At least the council responsible said they have now cancelled the ticket, but rumour has the warden is now applying to the Leigh on Sea Post Office where he is to be fast tracked to the counter dealing directly with the public with his "ideal" customer relations technique.

The only obstacle to his successful application is the fact that he can prove he has legally wed parents...

Qatar Airways

Must be about time we give Qatar Airways another mention.

Quite probably the best airline we haven't flown with (yet) and by far the most generous for their sponsorship of the Qatar Airways Ladies Berlin Tennis Open earlier this year, where we lucky enough to attend- and get into the VIP lounge.

Need to fly somewhere? Try Qatar Airways- they are really, really good and you know you want to.

More info here: http://www.qatarairways.com/




PS: Any freebie flights going to India in 2008? Ta.

Braun- An Apology!

Previously I was cursing the electric toothbrush as the re-chargeable battery was knacked. Again.

Wouldn't hold a charge, was charging intermittently and all round sluggish performance. All round I was not a happy bunny as a replacement currently sits in the "out of bounds of our meagre budget" price and yet I doubt we could ever revert to "normal" toothbrushes.

Weeeelllll, last night I wandered into the bathroom and again I noticed the little blue charging light was out. I went to switch on the bathroom light (situated outside of the bathroom as a safety feature) and as soon as I flicked the switch, the blue light on the toothbrush handle started winking.

Then the penny dropped.

The socket is only powered if the light switch is on (another safety precaution?) and so the brush (and having discharged it fully for its biannual battery conditioning as per OEM's instructions) was only getting charged for a few minutes a day when we had the light on in the bathroom.

Toothbrush is now relocated next to the laptop, merrily blinking away and soon to be fully recharged. Blinking thing...

The Euro Has Landed

1st janaury 2007, Slovenia loses its Tolar in favour of the Euro.

So if anyone has spare Slovenian currency they want me to dispose of for them, please send it over ASAP- it's only 6 0dd weeks to the new year.

And just exactly where has this year gone to?

Izola Town

A view of the town. How neat is this?
Today, in the middle of November.

The square on the harbour- to the right of the tree is the entrance to the street we live on.





The street we live on.


Friday, 17 November 2006

Electric Toothbrushes

Rather good bits of kit and a particular necessity for me as I brush too vigorously and our splendid dentist almost insisted I switch from a manual to a electric one or else wear my gums out.

Been using one for years now and swear by them- and at them.

Once again another Braun has gone down on us and it's time to buy another. That'll be our fifth, at least, despite following their instructions to maximise use of the rechargeable battery, ie discharge fully every six months before re-charging.

Rechargeable batteries only have a finite life and their memories lessen as time goes on so eventually it just will not recharge any further rendering the dynamic dental descaler redundant. And they ain't cheap, usually around £60 - £100!

But what is really frustrating is that they cannot replace the battery as it is a sealed unit due to the fact it is used in the bathroom (usually) around water. That being the case, why is it one can a battery operated item for a tenner and you can replace the batteries in those readily enough.

A money making scam? I shouldn't wonder.

Dark Justice

Currently trying to read the above book by Jack Higgins (he of "The Eagle has Landed" fame) which I picked up somewhere, left behind by a fellow traveller*.

Books are scarce and I'd not read one of his before; "The Eagle..." was an OKish film so I figured why not?

Blood hell- what a load of arse drop. Utter, utter garbage- like painting by numbers with Stevie Wonder. It has every imaginable cliche, quote and aside going (far, far worse than of my hog swill on here) and yet The Financial Times describes it as "In a class of his own".

Hhhmm, they should either leave the book review for someone with an IQ larger than their wallet size or they are being incredibly clever, for Mr Higgins is in a class of his own- thankfully.

My worst experience on tour so far was that snot called "Superman Returns". This is nearly as dire but I've not finished yet as I'm trying to make it last by watching the weeds grow in the local compost heap in between chapters.

The weeds are winning by a country mile at the moment.

karTER komment? Utter KRAP and no wonder it was left behind...


*Sadistic bastard!

Thursday, 16 November 2006

Bigger Cars, Bigger Fees?

A trial to be run in London (Richmond) will see resident’s parking permits “banded” with gas guzzlers and high carbon dioxide emission vehicles to be charged more than the greener equivalents. Apparently electric cars could even be free of charge, whilst second or more cars could be whacked with even higher costs.

The reason given of course, is the popular green band wagon/save the planet bollocks but opponents have already called this yet another stealth tax, aimed at raising more cash of for the council coffers.

A spokesman for the council admitted the scheme will raise one million pounds but denied that money-raising was the intention.

So that’s all right then, if you say so, pal…

IZOLA!

The town we’re staying in has its own television channel- and it’s brilliant.

24 hours a day, it shows nothing but a view of the promenade/harbour from a fixed camera point (CCTV) and nothing else. People coming and going, cars passing, street lamps going on and off- real riveting stuff, but completely fascinating.

But the best thing about it is, is that one can see the entrance to the street where “home” is- so once again “ktelontour” make it onto TV.

Missed Opportunity?

Can’t believe this hasn’t kicked off in England yet- a tourist tax!

In most of the countries we have stayed in, you are required to give up your passport at your place of accommodation (so they have an accurate record of your personal details) and then you are registered to pay a tourist tax at just over one Euro per day, per person.

That certainly adds up and I’m really surprised that the UK hasn’t cottoned onto this.

Still, give it time…

Monday, 13 November 2006

Latest Route and Whereabouts


A bit of a small map, but it gives you an idea of where we are. Next year we head southwards into Croatia and down to Greece by the end of 2007.
Or something like that...

Sunday, 12 November 2006

More Photies For November

Utter guff of course, but might be interesting for some:

www.flickr.com/photos/ktelontour

Our New Home

We have just found the ideal place which is going to be our new home over the forthcoming winter months. It's a wonderful basement type apartment with separate bedroom and then a large kitchen/diner/sitting room with the bathroom just off the main room.

We have all the necessary requirements- internet access (to be installed next week), cable TV offering Slovenian, Italian, English, French & German channels, a washing machine (a new one being delivered next week and a God send as there are {like Poland} no public laundrettes here) and finally a new double bed. Mega cool!

The lovely couple were expecting us to move in at the beginning of December, hence they are not quite ready, but due to the change of our plans in Hungary, we will move tomorrow and work around the outstanding bits until everything is sorted.

But the best bit about the place? Not just the price which is just within our budget, but the location. Maybe a 20 second walk to the harbour, right in the centre of the Old Town.

So, once again we may be off air for a while but the wait will be worth it- for us...

How's Your Luck

Southend United, having beaten Manchester United in the last round of the "Carling Cup" now face my team Tottenham in the quarter finals.

Which way do my loyalties lie? Who cares, either way I win- as did Bielefeld today again to keep them fifth in the Bundesliga, one point behind Bayern Munich.

Maybe Southend will meet Bielefeld in Europe next year! :-D

Saturday, 11 November 2006

One Hundred and Eeeeeeeeiiiiggggggggghhhhhhhhttttttttttyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy

GRAND.

Is what it costs to bring up a child nowadays.

And people still tell us we'll regret not having kids?

Hotel Rooms

Why do double bedrooms have a lock on the bathroom door?

First Impressions

WOW! What a lovely little town.

It nestles beside the sea and the mountains and is very pretty indeed. All the people are very friendly and speak excellent English (which is their third language; Italian first as Trieste is only 20 km away) so that means that my fluent Slovenian will not be called into play just yet.

We are currently trying to arrange long term accommodation which includes internet connection and this is proving to be difficult. We do have a very good offer which we are due to view today and it turns out the lady we are meeting has already seen us wandering about the town. Small world or what?

So, hopefully we will be settled soon and we can get back to being full time tourists ASAP.

Ciao...

Friday, 10 November 2006

Izola, Slovenia

Landed safe and sound in Izola and now off to explore. Be back soon folks.

Happy First Birthday to Max

It's our nephew's first birthday today and just a quick post to remind him to get the beers in.

Way to go Max!

Thursday, 9 November 2006

Budapest in Pictures











And Then it Snowed in Bratislava


Pictures of Bratislava







To This in Budapest, Hungary




From This in Bratislava, Slovakia




Truffles

Tried some for the first time today.

What's all the fuss about? Fancy mushrooms if you ask em...

Still, if there are eejits around who want to pay fortunes for them, who am I to stand in their way?

Wednesday, 8 November 2006

Leaving Slovakia

We were very sad to leave this wonderful country but we needed to be in Budapest and the weather was turning to winter so off we set.

As you will read in the "News Flash" we got pulled by the Fuzz (how painful does that sound?) and naturally we were completely innocent. The red light we were supposed to have driven through was not on the filter we took, but for the main traffic however in such circumstances you just smile, agree and pay the wedge.

It had to be bogus because we saw a Dutch car pulled by the same guys further up the road and we were not even offered a receipt for the "fine". Nor was the fine correct- it stated 2000 SKK but we only had 500 and so he insisted we pay another 50 E on top.

2000 SKK is ~ £36, we ended up paying £45; go figure...

Anyway we landed in Budapest and then had problem number two. The guest house was dire- cold, small and dirty (think "Rising Damp") and we'd booked for two weeks? Sod that. We made the most of it and spent the rest of the evening looking around Budapest and had a meal.

Problem number three- the prices were much more expensive (at least compared to what we had been accustomed to over the last few months) and so we decided that as we'd already been to Hungary before and nice though Budapest is, we'd just call it quits and head to Slovenia early.

We did suffer another night at the "accommodation" just to have one final and thorough look around Buda (and Pest, which I preferred; Buda is on the hills and is the old town, whilst Pest is by the Danube and is the newer, modern part) and having driven for most of yesterday we arrived in Slovenia.

We're currently spoiling ourselves in Celje which is gorgeous and plan to carry on driving to Izola tomorrow where we will spend the winter for the next three or four months.

Happiness equilibrium has now been restored as we have access to the outside world again and so all is well in K'Tel World.

**News Flash** **News Flash** **News Flash**

In a sting operation covering five countries, Slovakian Fuzz confirmed that they had brought to justice the notorious couple, karTER & El Tel (aka as "k'telontour" to fellow gang members) for driving a dirty car across Europe at speeds "not in keeping with the World's green policy"

The triumphant cops, brothers by birth, punched the air in delight following several months of close cooperation by Interplod, Interflora & Intercontinental to apprehend the young and good looking couple as they drove across Europe in hope of having "fun and a good time".

Ivor Gunn, the senior officer explained how they had lain in wait at a roundabout to stop the fleeing couple and then had pounced as they drove through a red light "that wasn't actually there at all". He was unable to continue the interview due to fits of laughter, so his partner and still brother, had to continue.

Ivan "Bigger" Gunn was quoted as saying that on stopping the car he had shown them the fine for jumping a red light from his official little black book of fines was 50 Euro. He too then could not continue the interview for laughing but was heard to say something about it being his shopping list...

Both karTER and El Tel declined to comment although wifey was heard muttering about "Kung Fuing their asses" if she ever saw them again.


And now back to the weather...

The BIG 4-0 For Tree

It's not very gentlemanly to mention a burd's age but I've never pretended to be anything other, and so it's a very happy birthday to an old pal and top chick, Tree.

Hippy Boffday- to absent friends and have a great party. We can't be there, but we'll deffo be thinking of you.

Love and hugs.

PS: Tried to email you but it seems your addy is on the fritz- can you confirm details sometime?

Chelsea? See You Again in 16 Years...

As our top chum Dovey mentioned in his comment earlier, it's taken 16 years for Spurs to "do" Chelsea and as we arrived in Budapest we found a bar that was showing the game live...

3 hours earlier...

One day my timing will improve as I eternally promise wifey.

Still, until then let's enjoy the victory- it's been a long time in coming.

And whatever next? Southend to beat Man U at Roots Hall? I should co-co...

Budapest, Hungary

It took a while, but we're back on line and we've just had few days in Budapest.

The city is pretty canny (been before and it's just as we remembered) but due to pretty shite accommodation and grim weather, we decided to cut short our stay and push on into Slovenia; where we are now.

Been driving for what seems like days but is only a few hours but we're both pretty knacked, so it's an early night and we'll update you on what's been going down over the last few days.

It's not all fun and games being a full time tourist you know...

Sunday, 5 November 2006

Peers Out of the Window

And the snow has disappeared.

*woohoo*

Looks like the drive through to Hungary will not be quite so fraught after all.

Now to deal with a bigger problem though- getting wifey out of bed...

Slovakian Toilet Paper


For ladies only...?

Saturday, 4 November 2006

Zlatý Bažant

Great name, quality beer, top head ache.

We´re off to catch the bus back to Nitra from Bratislava shortly and then tomorrow it´s our turn to battle through the snow as we drive down to Budapest.

Wishing you all a good weekend and see you all soon from the next leg of our journey in Hungary.

Friday, 3 November 2006

Post Offices- Another Tale of Woe

In Slovakia one needs a type of tax sticker to use the "motorways" here.

Itś nothing too expensive as you can buy them for a week, month or year, with the weekly one kicking in at less than three quid. You can buy them in most big petrol stations and at the borders and of course at the Post Office.

Already you know where this is heading, don´t you?

We had to queue at four different counters before we managed to purchase said sticker. Four!


I could have sworn they were telephoning the Leigh on Sea branch pissing themselves laughing..."Eeese OK, comrade Cliiiint , we giff karTER the runaround for you..."

Bratislava on Ice

We got to Bratislava yesterday and found the apartment very easily. The building looked a tad ominous- grey, uniform, dull and typically ˝Eastern Bloc˝. However, on reaching the flat itself...WOW!

Huge rooms, bathroom with deep bath and shower, separate toilet fully fitted kitchen, and the sitting room had a widescreen TV, DVD player and a wide screen laptop! (The laptop is still a mystery to us as the keys are all transposed and we can´t find certain functions, but we muddle through). And it hasn´t got a mouse- just a slide pad thing, which is soooooo frustrating... Anyway, we have complete luxury although we wouldn´t be using it much as we had the city to explore.

That was only a 15 minute walk away and how impressive a place is that? Again, weŕe going to roll out the tired cliche of "itś the best we´ve seen" and again, it would be true. The town centre itself is fully paved for pedestrians only and all the shops are integrated into the original architecture, making look like a place lost in time. We´ve taken a few photos, so when we get back to our laptop weĺl be able to upload and you can see for yourselves.

Today we have all day to explore the sights and mke the most of our stay and looking out of the window, itś been snowing. Our first experience of the white stuff and naturally, being a big kid I can´t wait to get out in it.

No, where the bloody hell is the "´" key??