Thursday, 31 May 2007

How Clear is the Water?


Prison Overcrowding

Want to know what the solution is, according to The Justice Secretary?

Gaol fewer people.

Must be dead good to come up with such ground breaking solutions...

CCTV

As mentioned before on here, Britain is under surveillance from 14.2 million closed-circuit television cameras (CCTV).

However, it seems that 90% of them fail to comply with the law, based on incorrect usage and thus potentially being inadmissible in court.

Full story here and it makes quite disturbing reading...

Onley inn Ammereeka

They are having demonstrations outside the "Scripps National Spelling Bee*" currently being held in Washington, America.

Apparently, the protesters are complaining that the English language is too difficult and so words should be made easier to spell correctly. I quote:

“If spelling was made easier, more people would become literate and confident about writing and children would have more time to learn many other useful things – and to play.”

Here's a simple word for them: Retards.



*A nationwide spelling competition for kids up to 13 years old with a top prize of $35 000 (~£18 000)

The Heat is On

Moscow, Russia saw temperatures hit over 33 C this week; the hottest spell since records began back in 1879.

Unfortunately it has also caused many deaths as the blistering heat tempted people to jump into ponds and rivers to cool off- whilst drunk.

Time to ease off the Vodka until it starts to cool down a little, comrades. Besides, warm Vodka? Sacrilege!

Cartoon Capers

Yet another vital study in America has concluded that Walt Disney is "ageist" because they portray the elderly in a negative light. Cruella de Vil in the classic "101 Dalmatians" was quoted as an example because she was evil.

Per-lease! Get a life. NOW!

Doctor's Orders

Most men hate to see their GPs for a check up, so to drum up trade, doctors in Hurstpierpoint, (West Sussex) are offering to meet their patients in the White Horse Inn with the bribe of a free pint thrown in.

Outstanding effort.

Wrong Turn

A German driver in Düsseldorf got a tad confused when he mistook the entrance to a tube station for an undgeround car park and rammed his VW Beetle through the entrance; jamming his car on the stairs.

Oops...

Ol' Man River

Water always flows down hill, right?

No it doesn't.

The sheer momentum of the River Nile is so strong that at one point in Sudan, it flows slightly uphill for 1.6 kilometres.

Laid Back in Croatia

We've noticed here how "hands on" fathers are with their children. The kids go everywhere with their parents and it's usually the dad who's playing with them or keeping them entertained. Not only that, but they also seem not too overly cautious either.

Yesterday, we saw a tiny little girl of about two years old, sitting astride her father's shoulders and holding on by herself. Nothing unusual about that you may think, but he was riding a bicycle at the time (full pelt at that) and she was clearly delighted.

No thoughts of "what if", just get on out there and have some fun; exactly as it should be.

Wednesday, 30 May 2007

The Reason for the Trip


An extra large jar of the black stuff...

Rainy & Hubby



These two rode nearly 1300 miles (one way) to come and visit us in Fazana and to drop off a jar of Marmite. Outstanding couple and we very much look forward to seeing them again, sometime, somewhere.
India on Enfields is the loose plan in 2008, right?

Drink Driving

It seems that driving under the influence of alcohol is rising rapidly among younger drivers and the reason offered for this is that the younger generation has missed out on the impact of earlier campaigns warning against the dangers.

Or perhaps they don't give a stuff as there are no longer traffic Plod about to nick them? As long as you drive at 30 mph through a GATSO you are fine, despite being completely pissed out of your skull.




Convictions of alcohol-related driving offences are at a ten-year high in England and Wales with almost a quarter of offenders and victims of drink-driving in London aged between 17 and 24.

Virtual Law

Been a bit naughty and due up in front of the beak for sentencing?

Best have a look here then: online-court.co.uk

This new website will guide any visitor through the criminal charges and possible outcome of any alleged crime, in advance of the actual hearing. The site is free to the public and will be funded by lawyers paying a subscription.

David Beckham

I notice that he has been recalled by Steve McClaren into the national squad.

Originally dropped by the then new England manager following the embarrassment of Sven-Goran Eriksson efforts in Germany at the 2006 World Cup, many felt it was merely a way for McClaren of making a public statement to demonstrate that he was his own man, and that he had his own ideas.

Whatever the reasons, the results speak for themselves- England are still shite but I'm glad to see Beckham back.

He is a fair player and did not deserve to be dropped in some kind of a political charade. So good luck to him and let's hope he makes the most of it.

Timbuktu

It's OK, we haven't changed our route and ended up here, although at some point we hope to visit and watch some of the Paris-Dakar Rally in 201?.

No, I mention it because I've just found out it is twinned with Hay-on-Wye and how apt is that?

Why indeed?

Tuesday, 29 May 2007

A Couple of Piccies of Rab



More on Flikr

Hic

They really have their priorities right here in Croatia.

Whilst at a local bar, we noticed the price list. Beer is the usual 9-12 HRK/0.5l, but what we found amusing is that a Coke is 12HRK/0.25l.

It gets better though- a vodka and Coke is 10 HRK- that’s less than a normal Coke on its own. Remarkable.







(£1.00 = ~10.7 HRK; you can do the maths from here...)

Wedding Bells

What with the ever increasing costs of weddings, here's a neat idea we came across recently.

Instead of the rather tired (and frankly embarrassing) wedding presents list, where everyone chooses an item to buy for the happy couple, the latest thing is to contribute to their honeymoon.

The newly-weds-to-be select a travel agent and all the guests chip into the pot for their holiday. If it's not quite enough to take them to their dream getaway, they can simply top up the remainder, or if they have lots of generous friends they can go anywhere they wish.

Much better than half a dozen toasters or waffle makers...

All Bikers Love a Good Read

So there we were, waiting in reception at Hotel Jadran for our taxi and this blurk wanders in, in full bike kit. In impeccable English, the guy asks for his room and begins to sort out his passport and details.

Coincidentally, I had just finished a copy of BIKe magazine (Rainy had brought a couple of issues with her on her recent ride to Fazana) and so I asked the chap if he wanted it.

He nearly tore my arms out in his haste to accept and with a beaming grin he thanked us profusely.

It was only afterwards as we were getting into the taxi did we see his Yamaha Fazer Thousand; with German plates. If I'd known I could have asked him if he wanted the mag in German, but then again, no one likes a show off, do they?

:oD

Made it to Rab

Plain sailing after yesterday's mishap as we got our taxi in plenty of time to get to the port today.

A more than reasonable four quid for the ferry to get us to the island of Rab (a good hour and a half away) which in fact turned out to be a very modern catamaran, complete with three televisions showing live transmission from HR1, HR2 and RTL (national channels).

On Rab we were met by our new hosts for the next four nights at Apartment Renata (less than ten minutes walk to the old town) and we've already made ourselves right at home.

Things are looking brighter (unlike the weather which is still warm but chucking it down) as the lappie is making a fine effort to work and the wireless internet connection fired up first time. It can't last of course, but whilst it all hangs in there we'll be making the most of it.

Monday, 28 May 2007

Taxing Concern

It has just been calculated that for every working hour every British tax payer has been charged £6.60 by the Government.

Must be fun if you're on minimum wage...



The guff: The national minimum wage is to rise by 17 p (~3%) from £5.35 to £5.52 an hour from October 2007.
The rate for workers aged 18-21 will rise by 15 p to £4.60 an hour, while workers aged 16 and 17 will get a 10 p rise to £3.40 an hour.

Hotel Rooms

Nuvver tip for you if you use a lappie on your travels and staying at hotels.

Bear in mind that when you remove your key card the electricity is cut to your room after two minutes or so and if you haven't turned off your computer it may end up with a dead battery if you're out for the day.

Cheers

All cans and bottles containing alcohol will have to show the number of units of alcohol they contain and also provide advice on recommended drinking levels by the end of next year. At this stage it is merely a voluntary agreement between the Government and drinks industry but expect it to be made law soon enough because clearly we are incapable of thinking for ourselves.

But in the meantime, I'll stick to draught beers and enjoy the warning free decadence that they provide.

And Still It Goes On

A chap wrongly imprisoned on false rape charges is to receive a bill of £6 800 from the Ministry of Justice (?) for his "board and lodging" over the three years he needlessly spent in gaol.

Are these people for real?

Laptop Update

Major hissy fit yesterday afternoon and did not want to play. Kicked it a few times and begrudgingly its allowing us a quick visit but it seems to be straining at the seams.

Thankfully, Helen (wifey's best mate) is due to visit us in July and her hubby is an IT expert. He's on the case to source us a new lappie with an English operating system and keyboard and then H can bring it over with her.

That's what great friends do- help in moments of crisis without a second thought. Many thanks for this, it's a real life saver.

Until then we will do the best we can, whether its via our reluctant 'pooter or from cyber cafes, we will continue to bring you cutting edge drama from our travels to keep you, the reader, faintly amused if your bored, stuck in the office and have no more paint left to watch.

Oooh, breakfast time at the Hotel Jadran, so good it's worth getting up early for. Later, people...

Kind, Considerate Croatians

This country and its people are amazing.

(1) Trying to find a phone box to call a taxi at the shopping precinct we looked everywhere, including lost. A kindly security guard in excellent English approached us and when asked to show us where the public telephones were, he said there were none.

He then went over to customer services of the large supermarket nearby and got the young lady to call up a cab (which unfortunately did not show up) saying that due to the rain, it was to be 15 minutes before they could get one out.

Imagine that, a security guard back in the UK capable of speaking another language and then trying to help...

(2) The reception staff at Hotel Jadran. Not only sorted out another room for the extra night but then rang the people we were due to stay with on Rab to advise of our 24 hour delay and explaining why. No fuss, no bother and without charge. Top class service and very friendly, polite and warm people.

Hotel Jadran Management Level: Your reception team for our stay (26-28th May 2007) are excellent. Professional, courteous, helpful and with exceptional English. You should be proud of them and they deserve a big bonus/promotion this year. ktelontour highly approved.

(3) Renata and Neno from Apartments Renata on Rab. Due to meet us off the ferry they receive a phone call from Hotel Jadran that we weren't on it and we'd be arriving a day later. They assured us it was not a problem, they would see us the next day and not to worry about anything.

That's what Croatia is all about- it's wonderful people...

Ferry Bad News

The idea was simple. Nip up to the shopping centre nearby to the Hotel Jadran where we were staying, kill off an hour or so and then collect our bags and get a taxi to the ferry port and onto Rab, our next stop.

Yeah, right.

Just got to the mall when the mother of all storms opened up and boy, did it chuck it down. Thunder, lightning, torrential rain- the whole shooting match including the kitchen sink.

"Oh bother" we cried, a tad disappointed- "no way can we get back to the hotel in this, let's get a taxi, via the hotel for our luggage and onto the ferry terminal directly" We are nothing, if not resourceful...

Over 45 minutes later the taxi had not shown (there was a terrific demand for them due to the storm) and so unfortunately we missed our boat and had to spend another night at this fabulous hotel.

Life's a real bummer sometimes...

Stuff They Should Make

Part 362:

An illuminated keyboard for night time typing. So simple, so easy, so do it...

Sunday, 27 May 2007

HIPS

Home Improvement Packs, the much publicised and completely unnecessary new idea by "New" Labour, were to be introduced next week, on the 1st June.

However, in the wake of the chaos caused by a lack of qualified inspectors, non-functioning software, and other shambles surrounding the new scheme, the proposed new start up date is now going to be 1st August and it will only target four bed-roomed (or more) properties.

I can see a whole load of homes now going on the market as "three beds and a study"...

Summer Time

Walking along the harbour in the glorious sunshine we stopped to gaze at the deep blue of the waters. Looking further in, we noticed lots of fish, of differing sizes, just swimming around minding their own business.

As we were marveling at this sight, some locals arrived and began tossing in small bits of bread, despite there being no ducks around.

Thinking perhaps that the 32 C heat had perhaps got to them, we started to grin when all of a sudden, the fish started to jump up out of the water to gorge themselves on the floating feast. Amazing.

Quite literally shoals of fish all churning/thrashing around like some frenzied piranha; all hoping to get a free lunch.

I can now see where the lines from Gershwin's classic comes from. All together now:

Summertime,
And the livin' is easy
Fish are jumpin'
And the cotton is high

Your daddy's rich
And your mamma's good lookin'
So hush little baby
Don't you cry

One of these mornings
You're going to rise up singing
Then you'll spread your wings
And you'll take to the sky

But till that morning
There's a'nothing can harm you
With daddy and mamma standing by

Summertime,
And the livin' is easy
Fish are jumpin'
And the cotton is high

Your daddy's rich
And your mamma's good lookin'
So hush little baby
Don't you cry

New Laptop Purchase

Seems imminent with our current jobbie coughing, spluttering and creaking along its protesting way.

We are currently a five minute walk away from a huge shopping mall and so we window shopped for a portable 'pooter yesterday.

WOW! They really have some nice trick bits available but tempting though they all are, two minor obstacles present themselves.

The operating systems all tend to be in "foreign" (quite understandable and more than reasonable seeing as we're living in Foreign) and thus no good to us, and the cost!

Blimey, that's a bit eye watering.

Oh well, back to bread and water for a while then, always assuming we can find a lappie that talks English...

Hotel Jadran

Very happy to report our one night "spoil ourselves" hotel stay in Rijeka has been all it was hoped it would be, with all facilities as promised and more. The staff were excellent and the room just as good.

Breakfast was a feast and though we rarely eat much before midday, it was so tempting that we couldn't help ourselves.

Top effort and ktelontour recommended.

Next stop the island of Rab with promised internet connection, so fingers crossed for that and the continued good behaviour of our laptop...

Saturday, 26 May 2007

Smile, You're Nicked


If you see one of these, it may be too late. This new type of speed scamera (currently on trial in London) does not flash and requires no film, and it takes a picture of the driver's face and registration plate.
If successful, expect it to go nationwide to aid Britain's quest to remove killers, rapists, drug barons and thieves off our streets to make the UK a safer and happier place...

Smoking Abroad

With the smoking ban imminent in the UK, why not take a holiday to get over the stress of the government ordering you what you can and cannot do by checking a guide of what's allowed in Europe in public. It seems not everywhere is following the rules as aggressively...

Banned

Ireland, Italy, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Sweden, Wales

Due

England, Finland, France

Banned
(but excluding pubs and restaurants)

Austria, Latvia, Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Spain

Restrictions*

Germany, Greece, Hungary, Poland



* No idea what the "restrictions" are , but having been to all these places (Greece at the end of the year), none were apparent.

Burds in the Club

The Calcutta Club, (one of the oldest and most prestigious clubs in India), has opened its doors to lady members for the first time to mark its one hundredth year of founding.

The 4,700 members of the club (all men, of course) recently voted to admit the first two women members in an effort to modernise one of the most enduring legacies of British colonial rule in India.

However, the president insisted that the bar would remain a male preserve and women members would only be allowed to drink in the "Mixed Bar".

Surely they will not be allowing women to vote next, will they?



The Calcutta Club was founded in 1907 and facilities include a dining room, a card room, a billiards room, a health club, a swimming pool and residential rooms. Men are required to wear a jacket and tie during winter and Indian dress is banned.

BLiar the Tree Hugger? I Think Not...

So much for BLiar being the champion of the crusade against global warming and climate change.

On his "farewell tour" he intends to personally bid farewell to some of his more sycophantic foreign chums by using a commercially chartered aircraft, (usually a Boeing 777) to make eight separate trips which will clock up an impressive 34 300 miles.

Oi, BLiar you bare-faced hypocrite. Thought about using the telephone? In fact, use a telephone box and you could invite all your fans round for the celebration party afterwards too...there'll be plenty of space.




To offset the amount of carbon dioxide emitted on his swansong jolly, BLair would need to plant 7,200 trees to compensate...

And so it Begins

Fancy a drive into Manchester?

Well, the ill received congestion charge introduced into London is spreading to Manchester soon if the new scheme is to be approved (like it's not a foregone conclusion already?) for rush hour traffic.

Expect to pay a fiver on weekdays from 7.00 am to 9.30 am and then again 4.00 pm to 6.30 pm starting in 2012.

Personally I'd be happier paying a tenner not to drive in Manchester...



Oh, and apparently motorcycles, which we all know are much more eco-friendly than cars, vans, buses and lorries are not going to be exempt either. Clearly another tax on motorists after all then.

Sod It; Time For a Treat







Like we're not spoilt already, right?
We've got a one night stop over in Rijeka before we embark on our three week island hopping extravaganza and so we're pushing the boat out and staying in a proper 4* hotel- our first in Croatia.
To date we've tried hotels in all the countries on our tour so far and they all come under the category "disappointing" at best. Indeed, two places we cancelled early and got out quick because they were so shite, despite glowing on-line reviews (probably provided by a grateful family member.)
So, despite it nearly costing us a whole week's living expenses, we've learned from our mistakes and are pushing the boat out for the pictures you can see above. It claims:
"Friendly and helpful hotel staff will make your stay pleasant and relaxing. Besides services related to accommodation, various other services are also available at the hotel reception (postal and telecommunication services, purchasing daily press and journals, currency exchange, washing and ironing of the clothes, information and reservations on taxi and car-renting services, plane, ship and train time-tables, etc).
All rooms and hotel suites are simply decorated (with preserved old Mediterranean architecture) and painted in warm and earthy colours, yet fully equipped and comfortable to meet any needs. Besides restful accommodation, each room is air conditioned, with practical and harmoniously furnished bathroom, a satellite TV and radio, direct telephone line, Internet connection, safe and mini-bar. A particular advantage of the Hotel Jadran is its unique location; the hotel is virtually in touch with the sea owing to the large glass walls. Majority of rooms have a view at the sea, and either have a spacious balcony or entire external glass wall. Each room in the hotel is unique and offers an exceptional impression to its guests and an unforgettable experience of the mesmerising blue Adriatic Sea. That is one of the reasons why it is worth to come back and view the Kvarner Bay, each time from another room and another perspective. "
And if it doesn't deliver its promise, we're ratting 'em out. Link withheld until we give it the kteontour test, but it's all going to be good, right? RIGHT?






Did You Know

That the first established bank opened in Greece, a full 200 years before the birth of Christ.

And they've been fleecing us ever since...

Laptop Lurgie

Got back last night and the 'pooter had crashed with the dreaded blue screen and the delightful words "fatal error" plastered all over its screen. Did the usual routine:

1- panicked

2- three finger salute

3- stared at it as it did nothing at all

4- repeated step 1

5- lots

6- powered down by taking out battery and removing cable

7- re-booted and got the DOS screen and the really ominous message "cannot find operating system"

8- stared at it some more, scratching arse and REALLY panicking

9- kicked it as the HD (hard drive) made horrible clicking* sounds but nothing further

10- noticed it was excessively hot (room temp over 28C)

11- let it cool down

12- booted it again (right proper kick this time) and then re-booted

13- to thankfully see the start up menu appear and all appears well again


We may be in the market for a new lappie as this is a sign of impending doom, so if anyone wants to fly one one out (we have to have an English operating system as asking for a bread roll in Croatian just ain't going to cut it unfortunately) we can do a deal...

Just when things were going so well...


* techie equivalent of sticking up two fingers, I'm convinced.

Friday, 25 May 2007

Ho Hum

The Government is managing to confiscate just 5% of the annual profits of the criminal underworld.

An estimated £2 billion a year of criminal cash is available for seizure and a further £3 billion is sent overseas, but our dedicated law enforcement agencies could only manage to seize a meagre £125 million last year.

How often have do we hear the phrase, "crime doesn't pay"?

*sigh*


The overall social and economic cost of organised crime is put at a conservative £25 billion a year, whilst organised crime itself generates at least £15 billion in profit.

More Germans on the March

Tenuta de Castelfalfi, a village in the heart of Chiantishire, near Siena, Italy, is being bought by the travel company TUI (who in turn own Thompson) for £170 million and will be renamed as Toscana Resort Castelfalfi, owned outright by Germans.

The 11 sq km (eight square miles) hamlet has a medieval castle, a three-star hotel, an 18-hole golf course, and cottages and farm houses in various states of dilapidation and the Germans now plan to another hotel, another golf course and an adventure resort to offer 3 200 customers "a genuine rural experience".

Going to be fun to see who gets their towels on the sun loungers first there then!

An Inch is as Good as a Mile

In 1066, the inch was defined as the length of three barleycorns.

Selective breeding of barley over the next three hundred years has caused the inch to grow by more than 20% to its present day length.

We're Off Too

Sadly we're leaving Fazana tomorrow morning, having spent a lovely two weeks at Apartments Brioni (outstanding accommodation, highly recommended) and head off to Rijeka for a night, before we grab a ferry to the first of our island hops on Sunday.

We've got three nights in Rab and then four nights in Krk and then another week (as yet unplanned) to see some more islands before we return back to Fazana and Apartments Brioni again. There we're staying another week (told you the place is good) and meeting with wifey's mum and aunt who are seeking a bit of summer sun.

So, we may be off line for a while, but we'll continue to do our best.

On the Subject of Thanks

Many thanks to Mr & Mrs "Rainy" who have just left to ride back to England after coming down to say "hi" and drop off a jar of Black Gold (and a couple of issues of "BIKe" magazine).

We've had a wonderful few days (where did the time disappear to?) and thoroughly enjoyed your company. Wonder where we'll meet up next time?

RIP BLiar

While on his morning walk, British Prime Minister Tony Blair fallsover, has a heart attack and dies because the accident and emergency ward at his nearest hospital is too understaffed to treat him in time.

So his soul arrives in Heaven and he is met by Saint Peter at the PearlyGates.

"Welcome to Heaven," says Saint Peter, "before you settle in, it seems there is a problem. We seldom see a Socialist around these parts, so we're not sure what to do with you."

"No problem, just let me in; I'm a good Christian; I'm a believer,"says the oily PM.

"I'd like to just let you in, but I have orders from God Himself. He says that since the implementation of his new HEAVEN CHOICES policy, you have to spend one day in Hell and one day in Heaven. Then you must choose where you'll live for eternity."

"But I've already made up my mind. I want to be in Heaven," replies Blair.

"I'm sorry ... but we have our rules," Peter interjects. And, with that, St. Peter escorts him to an elevator and he goes down, down, down...all the way to Hell. The doors open and he finds himself in the middle of a lush golf course. The sun is shining in a cloudless sky. The temperature is a perfect 22 degrees C and in the distance is a beautiful club-house.

Standing in front of it is Harold Wilson and thousands of other Socialist luminaries who had helped him out over the years --- John Smith, Michael Foot, Jim Callaghan, etc.

The whole of the Labour Party leaders were there ... everyone laughing, happy, and casually but expensively dressed. They run to greet him, to hug him and to reminisce about the good times they had getting rich at the expense of 'suckers and peasants.'

They play a friendly game of golf and then dine on lobster and caviar. The Devil himself comes up to Blair with a frosty drink.

"Have a tequila>and relax, Tony!"

"Uh, I can't drink anymore, I took a pledge," says Blair, dejectedly.

"This is Hell, son. You can drink and eat all you want and not worry and it just gets better from there!"

Blair takes the drink and finds himself liking the Devil, who he thinks is a really very friendly bloke who tells funny jokes like himself and pulls hilarious nasty pranks, kind of like the ones the Labour Party pulled with the European Constitution and the Education, Immigration, Tough on Crime promises.

They are having such a great time that, before he realises it, it's time to go. Everyone gives him a big hug and waves as Blair steps on the elevator and heads upward. When the elevator door reopens, he is in Heaven again and Saint Peter is waiting for him.

"Now it's time to visit Heaven," the old man says, opening the gate.

So for 24 hours Blair is made to hang out with a bunch of honest, good-natured people who enjoy each other's company, talk about things other than money and treat each other decently. Not a nasty prank or short-arse joke among them. No fancy country clubs here and, while the food tastes great, it's not caviar or lobster. And these people are all poor.

He doesn't see anybody he knows and he isn't even treated like someone special!

"Whoa," he says uncomfortably to himself. "Harold Wilson never prepared me for this!"

The day done, Saint Peter returns and says, "Well, you've spent a day in Hell and a day in Heaven. Now choose where you want to live for eternity."

With the 'Deal or No Deal' theme playing softly in the background, Blair reflects for a minute ... then answers:

"Well, I would never have thought I'd say this -- I mean, Heaven has been delightful and all --but I really think I belong in Hell with my friends."

So Saint Peter escorts him to the elevator and he goes down, down,down, all the way to Hell. The doors of the elevator open and he is in the middle of a barren, scorched earth covered with garbage and toxic industrial wasteland, kind of like the eroded, rabbit and fox affected Australian outback. He is horrified to see all of his friends, dressed in rags and chained together, picking up the roadside rubbish and putting it into black, plastic bags. They are groaning and moaning in pain, faces and hands black with grime.

The Devil comes over to Blair and puts an arm around his shoulder. "I don't understand," stammers a shocked Tony, "yesterday I was here and there was a golf course and a club-house and we ate lobster and caviar and drank tequila. We lazed around and had a great time. Now there's just a wasteland full of garbage and everybody looks miserable!"

The Devil looks at him, smiles slyly and purrs, "Yesterday we were campaigning; today you voted for us!"

Cheers to Tree for this gem.

:oD

Thursday, 24 May 2007

Hole in One?

It's the aim of every golfer to get one and most can never achieve this amazing shot. Whether it's fluke or skill, who's to say, but one lady golfer in America seems to have the knack.

She's had 14 hole in ones in just over 4 months!

All previous 13 have had witnesses as they have occurred in competitions but when the TV cameras rolled up to interview her, she even managed to demonstrate one live on camera; her 14th.

The odds on this is pretty much impossible to calculate but they tried for her run of ten, coming up with twelve septillion to one. That's 12 followed by 24 zeroes! They have since given up.

She even managed to get two hole in ones in one match.

Still, every silver lining has its cloud. Traditionally if you do get a hole in one you are expected to buy a round of drinks at the 19th hole (the club house) and she insists on only buying Dom Pérignon, which at £125 a bottle has to date set her back several thousand quid.

Remarkable achievement.

** Update **

I mentioned that the government was considering banning smoking at the wheel recently, but they have now decided not to pursue this further.

Instead the updated Highway Code will add smoking as a "distraction to be avoided" and at this stage there are no plans to underline the sentence three times to emphasise that it is really, really naughty.

Any smoking drivers can now breath a sigh of relief- if they still can

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

Croatian Bread

Is lovely and here's a neat trick at the baker's shop.

If you don't fancy a whole loaf, just ask for half and they'll chop it in two, without fuss or the need for a measuring tape.

Half a loaf, half the price, twice as much flavour 'cos it means you can have fresh bread every day. Excellent idea.

You Need Hands

Latest research now claims that parents can predict their children's exam performance simply by checking the length of their fingers. Psychologists suggest that pupils with longer ring fingers will be more likely to excel in numeracy while those with shorter ring fingers will be more adept at literacy.

Pur-leease...

Here's a couple of fingers for these so-called experts, in the shape of a "V". Try and figure out the meaning of that!

Brits Abroad

A recent survey of 15 000 European hoteliers has revealed that British tourists are the fifth most miserly tippers of all nations, the second worst-dressed people after the Americans and the third biggest complainers. Even British hotel managers concurred, finding their fellow countrymen to be the worst behaved and among the most impolite.

However, there is some good news as Britons were voted the third biggest spenders while on holiday, after Americans and Russians and in a similar poll taken five years ago, the Brits abroad were considered to be the worst in the world, now they are ranked only the fifth worst nation of tourists.

Top of the pile is now France...

Flash

Drivers and riders who have taken their cases to court and used solicitors in their defence against speeding tickets by contesting camera calibrations, speed sign irregularities or even false camera readings may have to work a little bit harder as Plod is fighting back.

In the past, Dibble usually cancel tickets because they lack the resources to prove their case or because they do not want to risk losing the case and establishing a precedent, however the Rozzers are now putting together a team of experts (called Road Safety Support) to persecute, sorry, prosecute, these hardened criminals who dare to break speed limits.

Why don't they just use properly calibrated cameras with trained personnel out in the open instead of dodgy tactics to keep filling the coffers?

Wanna Divorce?

Then just log on to Divorce-Online and sixteen weeks (& £65) later you'll be single again.

Or if that is still too much hassle, there is another company that will take care of matters without you needing to even take time off work at a mere £250, providing the divorce is uncontested.

With such offers around, is it any wonder there were over 150 000* divorces in England and Wales last year? That amounts to nearly one in every three...



*155 052 to be precise

Time For a Stiff One

Don't fancy jet lag? Take a Viagra.

Testing has revealed that the impotence drug helped cope with disrupted body clocks, although strangely enough only whilst flying eastbound and not in the opposite direction. So if you're flying in from New York to London you're fine but not vice versa.

Or perhaps just use the happy pill to join the "Mile High Club" if leaving England for America then?

Oh, The Hokey Cokey

An ex-West End dancer who taught four classes a week as a dance instructor yet also claimed disability benefits for "arthritis" was busted after trousering eight grand in hand outs.

He only got 200 hours community service but I'd have sent him to the Can-Can.

*titter*

Grrr!

Why is it some places that advertise "internet connection in our apartments" and when you ask directly what type, they ignore you entirely?

If you ain't got it, don't bloody well say you have and assume we'll forget about it, you annoying time wasters.

*gnashes teeth*

Fun in the Sun


Brijuni Island




We did our first "tourist" day trip yesterday to Brijuni Island and had a great time.

Brijuni was also the island that General Tito lived on for six months of the year where he entertained dignitaries from around the world.

My favourite part was visiting an olive tree that was 1 600 years old and that still bears annual fruit (picture).

Deffo worth a trip if you're passing.

MIA*

We may be a little light for the next day or so as we've had a visit from the UK from friends on one of our bike boards.

You may think there's nothing unusual in that, but if I were to elaborate further and mention that Mr & Mrs "Rainy" rode their matching Triumph 1050 STs all the way from England in three days, via France, Belgium, Germany, Italy and Slovenia to come and deliver a jar of Marmite to us, it starts to become more interesting.

That's around 1300 miles, one way, and they are only staying a few nights before heading back again!

Now that is living life in the fast lane.



*Missing in Action

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

Food for Thought

Life is nothing but a competition to be the criminal rather than the victim - Bertrand Russell

Parry Snotter and Co

The Post Office is cashing in on Harry Potter's popularity and will offering stamps bearing the images of the covers of all seven books, plus a further set of five depicting the crests of Hogwarts school and its four houses.

Expect release on 17th July, four days before the final book ("Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows") goes on sale.

Let's hope their spelling is a little more accurate this time...

You Wot?

The average person says "um" or "uh" once for every eight other words they speak.

Yes um, I am erm, quite sure they do. So?

I think it is good to pause before speaking sometimes instead of diving straight in and making a fool of oneself.

What's the saying? You can't un-ring a bell...

Mars U Turn

You may recall I mentioned that Masterfoods had decided to switch to animal rennet (derived from the stomach lining of newborn calves) in the coagulation of the milk it used because it is a cheaper alternative to fungal or bacterial methods?

Well, Mars use Masterfoods products and following 6 000 comments made in just one week (the average response is usually 500) from upset vegetarians, they have admitted to making a mistake and will now revert back to their traditional processes and ingredients. The company said that it would change back its recipes for the four bestselling brands immediately, with Minstrels would follow at a later date.

Good for them and good for the veggies too for ensuring that the company backed down using the power of popular public persuasion.

Now, please let the public sort out the Government in a similar fashion and we'll all be happy.

Multi-Agency Information Sharing

Sounds quite innocuous and sensible at first glance. Until you find out that it's referring to your personal details and that it is planned to allow them to passed around many different agencies.

But it gets better. Do you want to know why the Home Office is intending to introduce this new policy?

It's to allow council workers*, charity staff* and doctors to tip off police about anyone whom they believe could commit a violent crime or be the victim of one.

The leaked document states:

“Public bodies will have access to valuable information about people at risk of becoming either perpetrators or victims of serious violence.

Professionals* will obviously alert police or other relevant authority if they have good reason to believe [an] act of serious violence is about to be committed.

However, our proposal goes beyond that, and is that, when they become sufficiently concerned about an individual, they must consider initial risk assessment of risk to/from that person, and refer [the] case to [a] multi-agency body.”


It must be nice living in Eng-er-land under the Nazi Party...


And since when have these * people been professional?

Monday, 21 May 2007

It's All Greek to Me

The word "alibi", comes from the name of a prison in ancient Greece where prisoners were moved before they were released.

Cost of the Can

The annual cost of keeping a criminal in gaol has now risen to £49,220.

The single person's pension is currently £119.50/week...less than £15k a year.

And they say crime doesn't pay?

It's Only Words

Did you know that the phrases "the dog's bollocks" and "bog standard" originated with Meccano in the early days?

Meccano was first sold in two sizes of boxed set: "Box Standard", and "Box Deluxe".

These found their way into the English language, perverted to "Bog Standard", meaning something mundane or ordinary, and "Dog's Bollocks", meaning something especially good.

So "Bog Standard" started out as "Box Standard", and "Dog's Bollocks" started out as "Box Deluxe".

Funny thing, language...

Cheers to PaulR for this wonderful snippet of information.

The Only Way is Up


Footie Round Up

So, with Schalke leading the German Bundesliga pretty much for most of the season, they went into their last game praying for Stuttgart to lose or draw.

Had they drawn, Schalke needed to win by four clear goals against my team, Bielefeld, and within the first quarter of an hour, they had put two past us as Cottbus led Stuttgart 1-0. Gripping stuff and here's where the krafty (sic) Krauts made for good television viewing tension by showing the highlights of both games at the same time, flicking from game to game as each match progressed.

Unfortunately it was not to be as Bielefeld lost 2-1 and Stuttgart won 2-1 and you really have to feel for Schalke and their loyal fans. They have not won the championship in the last forty nine years.

As the German commentator remarked, it's like the Englanders and their penalties- it's just not going to happen!

Although we didn't get to see the FA Cup Final at "new" Wembley, it sounds like it wasn't much of a game between Man U & Chelsea. The Blues beat the Reds by the odd goal in extra time but the only thing of real interest to me was did the stadium manage to cope with everyone going for a piss?

Fill Her Up & Top Up the Oil, Please


Ever wondered how motorboats get their diesel? It's just like filling up a car except you can't grab any snacks or your lottery ticket.

Moto GP in Le Mans

Chris Vermeulen claimed the first ever Moto GP race win of his career at the drowned out French Grand Prix.

The Suzuki rider came from 12th on pole to win his maiden race ahead of Marco Melandri and Casey Stoner, his compatriot Australian.

Bigs names Rossi, Capirossi and Edwards were well down the field as Alex Barros, Kenny Roberts Jr, Nicky Hayden and Carlos Checa all recorded DNFs.

Race Results:

1 - Chris Vermeulen (Rizla Suzuki)
2 - Marco Melandri (Honda Gresini)
3 - Casey Stoner (Marlboro Ducati)
4 - Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda)
5 - Alex Hofmann (Pramac d'Antin Ducati)
6 - Valentino Rossi (Fiat Yamaha)
7 - John Hopkins (Rizla Suzuki)
8 - Loris Capirossi (Marlboro Ducati)
9 - Makoto Tamada (Dunlop Yamaha)
10 - Sylvain Guintoli (Dunlop Yamaha)
11 - Fonsi Nieto (Kawasaki Racing)
12 - Colin Edwards (Fiat Yamaha)

Championship Standings:


1 Casey Stoner Ducati MotoGP 102

2 Valentino Rossi Yamaha Factory 81

3 Daniel Pedrosa Honda Repsol 62

4 Marco Melandri Honda Gresini 61

5 Chris Vermeulen Suzuki MotoGP 55

6 John Hopkins Suzuki MotoGP 48

7 Loris Capirossi Ducati MotoGP 38

8 Toni Elias Honda Gresini 35

8 Colin Edwards Yamaha Factory 35

10 Nicky Hayden Honda Repsol 30

10 Alex Hofmann Ducati d'Antin 30

12 Alex Barros Ducati d'Antin 27

13 Carlos Checa Honda LCR 20

Pula in Pictures





More here...

Sunday, 20 May 2007

Chucky's Back

You know what the problem was?

The router to the apartments had locked and all we needed to do was switch off, give it a minute to reset and boot up again.

Worked first time and we're back on line.

AND just as we expected/deduced but we just didn't know where the sodding box was hidden. Still, the owner's arrived, we've found the router between us and all is well again.

Oh well, you've had a couple of days to chill out and now it's back to business. There may be some catching up to do though...

Hector Hugh Munro

On the road one gets to read. A lot. Or when the internet connection is missing one reads quite a bit too.

If one is travelling lightly (for whilst books are the ardent tourist’s favoured accessory, they do take up space and carry a weight premium) one has to acquire reading material as and when one can. Hotels, libraries, tourist information centres; anywhere and every where, when ever the opportunity arises.

Which is why I am reading a chap named HHM (see title) and the “Complete Stories of Saki”. It’s actually one of wifey’s as she is a great fan of “traditional” fiction (read old people and “classics”) but she’s through with and now it’s my turn.

It’s the complete works of the chap and as far as I’ve read it’s a collection of short stories (very short stories, most not over two pages long) covering all aspects of conventional society in a mix of humour, satire, hypocrisy, irony and the macabre.

The unusual thing about HHM is that he wrote these stories almost 100 years ago but despite the dated wording, the stories still hold up today. Not all the stories are winners and it’s a bit hit and miss for my tastes, but definitely worth persevering with.

He was also quite an astonishing chap in his own right:

Saki is the pseudonym that HHM used and he was born in Burma in 1870. Unfortunately for him, his mother died when he was young and so together with his brother and sister, they were shipped to Devon to be raised by his two aunts.

As a young man (23) he joined the Burma military police but due to being struck down by malaria he only managed a year and returned back to England to become a journalist as a political sketch writer for the “Westminster Gazette”. He also went on to become a leading authority as the Balkan correspondent of the “Tory Morning Post” in 1902 and he covered Paris, Russia and Poland until 1908.

In 1914 as World War One broke out, he lied about his age (too old) and spent the next two years fighting with the Royal Fusiliers where he attained the rank of Lance-Sergeant.

He was killed by a sniper’s bullet in November 1916 with his last words allegedly being “put that cigarette out”.

So, if you get the chance, perhaps give him a try?

Prawns on the Shell

Love prawns; especially the real big monsters with sweet, plump moist flesh. Trouble is, they’re built like a tank and getting at the white treasure needs the skills of a safe cracker, the manual dexterity of a magician and the brute strength of Conan the Barbarian.

There has to be a technique, probably quite a simple one but as ever, even the easiest of techniques can be elusive if one hasn’t been shown how from the beginning. But one soldiers on and in the process gets covered from head to toe in prawn shrapnel as one digs for buried treasure.

The next hurdle to overcome is then what does one do with the soiled fingers? Even those with the highest of table manners and displaying etiquette not out of place at a Royal Garden Party must use fingers whilst dissecting this marine delight and therefore has to clean their dirty digits somehow.

The normal solution to this sticky wicket is a finger bowl of tepid, lemon scented water and a discreet towel. Alternatively, this tradition is being usurped by the all enclosed, sealed packet “wet wipe” but the new kid on the block is just that little bit grander.

It’s a cooling machine, (not unlike a mini refrigerator) that at a push of a button dispenses rolled, chilled squares of wet, perfumed fabric, which when unrolled offer ample opportunity for of cleansing the hands. These miracle of the modern personal hygiene are naturally offered on a plate by the passing waitress when required and once the toilet is completed, whisked away to de disposed of. Job done, as they say in the trade and if only getting the prawn meat out of the shell were half as simple.

Go Eat Local

They say that to obtain a good meal whilst dining out a rule of thumb to follow is to see where the locals eat and then follow suit. The logic runs that if it’s good enough for them, then it must authentic and well cooked food and worth taking a chance.

Fair enough, but it occurs to me that if an establishment is busy, not only will you have to wait longer for your meal but that due to mounting pressure on the chef/cook, short cuts may be taken and you, the passing tourist will more likely than not offer an opportunity to catch up. You’re also unlikely to come back again as you’ll be leaving to go home after a week or so and if the food is not quite up to scratch, are you able to complain in another language anyway?

So consider a restaurant that is empty and take a chance. First off, if you’re the only clients, they will make a great fuss over you as you’re good advertising to entice fellow diners into their restaurant and then you will be guaranteed the sole efforts of the kitchen staff preparing your meal. Not only that, but if the food is good, you’re also likely to spread the word to other holiday makers and thus their reputation grows.

Everyone wins, especially us. We did took the chance if picking a deserted diner and were rewarded with a meal that that was freshly prepared, tasted great and turned out to be pleasantly cheap to boot.

The Four Seasons

Well, more like the four months; over the summer here. Accommodation is what I’m referring to.

Low season is anytime out side of summer and apartments can be found for as little as 20€/night although you usually have to stay a minimum of three nights. Shorter stays are perfectly acceptable but expect heavy surcharges.

Then you have the middle season where we currently are, which runs up to the end of May(ish). Here the same apartment will cost you another tenner (Euro) on top, so the same place is now around 30€/night.

Then you get peak season, June, July & August. Ouch. The same pad goes up to 40-50€ per night! That’s a lot of Euros extra per week and for exactly the same accommodation you could have had a few months back.

But that’s life. Supply and demand, going market rate and such other buzz words. Of course it’s not just here in Croatia where one sees seasonal fluctuations, but if you can take a holiday outside the main months in the year, you can most certainly pick up a great deal. Happy bargain hunting.

Nibbles

A rather tasty snack whilst sightseeing is something called “slanci” which is a type of soft, bread stick drizzled in a liquid salt that has set on the crust. Delicious, and at 20p a go, more than reasonable as you graze your way around exploring.

Pula

It’s big. By far the biggest town in Istria and if not quite as pretty, is very interesting.

From Fazana by local bus takes about half an hour and costs about 14 HRK (£1.30) one way. Although the bus will drop people off right in the middle of town the stops do not appear to be mandatory and the bus on the return trip will not even pass back through the same route, so alight at the last stop, the bus station. This way you’ll know where to get the bus back from and what times the bus runs (perhaps hourly or so).

A short walk back from the bus station leads directly to the Roman amphitheatre which is quite amazing. Not only for its size and condition, but simply because normal houses have been built directly around it- imagine living right next to that?

The next thing you’ll notice is how green everything is. Trees, bushes, lawns, grass verges, shrubbery, it’s all there and then some. If seeing differing types of vegetation is your thing, you’ll adore this place and it also gives a pleasant contrast to the harshness of a bustling city and all that goes with it.

Continue walking down the hill and you will end up at the waterfront. The usual array of boats, yachts and tourist ferries are all moored up here and it’s a pleasant stroll along the harbour. You’ll see a fully working dock and whilst we were there, they were refurbishing some kind of tanker- it was enormous; even bigger than the amphitheatre. The size of that beast was truly breathe taking and the photos we took just do not do it justice.

At some point you’ll want to see the town centre, so just cut back in away from the seafront (to your left) and within a few minutes you’ll be back in tourist land. Shops, bars, restaurants, cafes, souvenir places, markets, ice cream parlours- the whole shooting match is laid out for you to sample, taste and enjoy and you will easily lose a few hours doing just that.

Again, there are plenty of places to eat, offering all types of cuisine. Unfortunately, there also seems to be this inclination by the waiters to try and befriend you and invite you in as you’re trying to review the menus located outside. This for me that is a sure fire way of sending me packing and sadly it seems to be becoming more apparent as we travel through Istria. Shame, but such is the competition for the tourist pound/yen/dollar/euro that I suppose they feel this will induce a potential diner into their, erm, diner. Good luck to them on that quest, but it certainly doesn’t work with me.

Anyway, minor quibble aside, Pula is great. Plenty to see and do and you can choose the tempo depending on how much time you have and how hot the weather is. Mid twenties whilst we were there although the wind was cool so, ideal for tramping around trying to get a laptop fixed…

Photos to follow

Hot Water

They don’t do much with gas or oil in Eastern Europe, it’s all electric. Heating and cooling comes via air conditioning units powered of course by electricity and the water is heated electrically too. Pretty much all the bathrooms will have a cold water storage tank, mounted somewhere higher up on the wall and the water is heated and used as required.

I mention this, as outside the bathroom and in compliance with all matters “health and safety”, there will be a set of switches. One switch for the lights, one usually for the electric heater located above the door for winter use and one to power the element to heat the hot water supply. There may even be one for a power socket as washing machines are usually located in the bathroom. This to me has always made more sense than in the kitchen- you chuck your used/dirty clothes directly into the washing machine and then step into the shower- simple.

They are not always obviously marked so be careful when switching off or don’t think that because nothing happens when you switch off it’s OK to leave it off- get the wrong one and you’ll end up with no hot water.

Saying that, the hot water switch tends to have a small illumination light to distinguish it from the rest but unless you’re aware of it, it is not always immediately obvious what its intended use is for. But now you know, right?

Oh, and another tip.

The hot water for the kitchen sink may be on a different tank too, and if that is not switched on you'll get nothing but cold. Look under the sink and there'll be a switch on the tank itself- as we did on the last day...washing dishes with cold water is such a bugger...

McDonald’s

Finally, after nearly 14 months on the road we popped into a Maccy Dees and had something to eat.

I’ve never been a McDonald’s snob, unlike some who see it as a creation of the Devil (although admittedly I do prefer Burger King) and I’ll quite happily dine at any of their establishments. Indeed there are many places around the world we have already done so- there is something quite comforting in recognising the same meal whether it’s in Moscow or Milan to Denmark or Deutschland.

However, on this tour it’s not really crossed my mind to have a burger as there has been so much other choice of food and given the option we’d rather eat the local fare.

Anyway, I went for the quarter pounder with cheese, including a diet Cole and fries, wifey, being a gurlie swot went for the healthy option of filet of fish, large salad and sparkling water and all for the princely sum of £6.20. Not too shabby and as ever the food was exactly as you expected it; most satisfying.

Radio Waves

The bus trip into Pula was a little longer than expected but it did stop almost everywhere on the way in.

However, to while away the time if you’re bored with the scenery, they play the local radio station on the buses. Not too loud to interfere with conversation but just audible enough to pick up the latest tunes and take your mind of the journey.

Nice idea.

How Frustrating?

As mentioned recently, we lost our internet connection and with it our link to the outside world. Unfortunately neither of us is the slightest computer literate (outside of the usual check it’s connected/on auto detect/switch off and switch on routine) and this has caused a considerable amount of aggravation, waste of time and expense to attempt to rectify the problem.

And still to no avail…

A round trip by bus into Pula centre (lovely place; more later) takes about an hour and costs about £5.20 return for the two of us. Then we had to tramp around to find an internet café to log on to find someone able to assist- another hour and another couple of quid. Then we had to walk to the IT centre and eventually we managed to connect our laptop to another network to try and trouble shoot the problem with the help of a charming bloke who’s English was first class.

Erm, no problem. Logged straight away without any fuss or having to reset any connection options. Double checked all internal settings (as we had already done) and all was good.

Got back to the apartment in high spirits expecting it to be just one of those things, reconnected as previously and bleedin’, bloody, bugger all!

Not a happy bunny and we can now only assume it’s a fault with the network router at the apartment so we need to contact the owners, which we can’t as our phone is reliant on the internet…

Double arse.

Breaking Bread

Small tip whilst dining out.

One usually expects complimentary bread at the start of one’s meal but this may not always be the case. Some establishments charge for it whether you have requested it or not.

If in doubt, ask, or if you don’t want bread, send it back. Mind you, at 50 odd pence it’s hardly going to break the bank.

Friday, 18 May 2007

Technical Hitch

Just when things were going so well, we run into a problem. A 'pooter problem- and that is serious as we're a pair of IT spackers at the best of times.

So we're now in Pula and instead of doing the tourist, sightseeing bit we're trying to find help to see why we cannot access our internet connection back at the apartments.

All was hunky doors last night and yet this morning, despite a connection showing, we are unable to access or connect with IE/hotmail/google et al.

Arse.

Normal service will be resumed ASAP. Hopefully.

More Pearls of Wisdom From Bush

President George Bush has admitted he "could be" partly to blame for Prime Minister Tony Blair's departure from Downing Street.

You know, I could nearly, possibly, maybe, perhaps, almost start to like the guy after all...

Hotting Up in Pula


We finally reach 30 by Tuesday. How's it your end?

Thursday, 17 May 2007

First Class


The Royal Mail dropped a bit of a clanger with its "Glorious England" stamp sets. It had wrongly spelt Isle of Wight as "Isle of White" and has had to recall thousands of stamps.
Mind you, there's money to be made if you get hold of them. Bidding for one set of stamps on eBay started at £50 and ended up going for £771!

Smile, You're on Candid Camera


A motorcyclist who rode past speed cameras at speeds of up to 105mph because he believed that he would not be caught has been convicted of careless driving.

A bus driver from Dunstable, Bedfordshire, would make two-fingered gestures at the cameras, believing that his helmet and lack of a numberplate would prevent detection. He was captured after detectives realised that there were only three motor-bikes like his, a BMW 1150, in the county. One camera was in a 40mph zone but Coffey’s recorded speeds varied between 70mph and 105mph.

The rider told Luton Crown Court: “A lot of the time I was just accelerating for the cameras. I don’t like the existence of them in this country.”

He was found guilty of nine charges of careless driving and nine of speeding between February and June last year in Dunstable and Leighton Buzzard. The jury found him not guilty of dangerous driving. He was banned for a year, fined £900 and ordered to pay £600 costs.
Sometimes one has little sympathy for the stupid people in this world. This is one of those occasions...
Taken from today's Times

For King & Country

It's just been announced that Prince Harry will not go to Iraq with his regiment, due to concerns over the threat to his life.

The MoD (Ministry of Defence) said that Prince Harry would however continue to have a “full and active role in the Army”.

Erm, aren't all soldiers lives threatened in war?

And how can he continue to be "fully active" in the army if he's not allowed to show up at battle?

So much for a "king" leading from the front then...

Clocking On

A gardener has been give a bonus of 50 000 drihams (~£6 900) by the ruler of Dubai for being on time for his work.

Every day for twenty eight years!

Now that is impressive.

Open All Hours

Made ourselves acquainted with one of the several bars here and ended up in a charming little place that was showing the Uefa Cup Final, last night.

Full of very friendly, male locals (aside from the highly efficient barmaid, wifey was the only burd) and we all had a great night.

The pub didn't have a toilet on site and you had to get a key if you needed to visit it a few doors down, free crisps and snacks as the evening wore on (and not cheap and nasty ready salted crisps either) and at bang on 22:00 the TV was switched off and our bill was produced. All the bars close here at 10.00 pm!

When it was pointed out that the game was entering into extra time as the scores were even, the television went back on again and things continued as normal until the winner was decided, without fuss, drama or complaint. Very pleasing to see and be involved in.

Five things of note to add:

(1) On determining we were English after my botched attempt at Croatian whilst ordering, the locals all erupted into laughter. However, they were so taken by my poor efforts that a round of drinks was sent over, on the house.
(2) Best price of beer on tour in Croatia @ 9 HRK (84p). Can it get any cheaper?
(3) A Coke, the quarter of the size of a pint of beer is 12 HRK (£1.12).
(4) Pub opening hours are a wonderful 06:00 to 22:00 (ish).
(5) Once again, oddly enough draught beer is more expensive than bottled.







Espanyol versus Sevilla 2-2 AET; Sevilla win 3-1 on penalties

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

Keystone Cops

Did you hear about the kid who allegedly kept some money he had raised for doing a sponsored event for charity?

Seems like Plod were down on "their monthly target figures" and so they decided to interview all 542 people who had sponsored the lad and thus turned one incident into five hundred and forty two investigations.

Other vital cases included a man cautioned for being “found in possession of an egg with intent to throw” and the arrest of a child who had removed a slice of cucumber from a tuna/mayo sandwich and had then thrown the offending slice at another kid*.

But it's not our wonderful force of donut munchers that are at fault here, it's the government that insist on tying everyone and everything up in bureaucratic red tape- and that is ultimately our fault for voting these megalomaniacs into power...





*The sandwich "case" was deemed even more serious as the filling included egg and the "victim" was taken ill because they were allergic to it...

Drapes

What's the point of having curtains that do not draw properly?

You know, the entirely essential bits of material hanging down either side of a window, where you pull one piece across and then the other to overlap in the middle and you've got a nice 6" (15cm) gap at both ends now?

Better still- don't just save 0.003 € on material that is too short to stretch across the expanse of glass, but make it so bloody thin that a fag paper would keep out more light in a war zone blackout.

*mutter*

*grumble*

*whinge*


Ah well, yet another hot and sunny day to greet a happy morning person then...

Our Tour of Croatia To Date



Here you go Rainy, follow in our footsteps (yellow line) and if all goes to plan, see you in Fazana next week?

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

The Brijuni Islands

Are a group of some fourteen islands and islets located just opposite us in Fazana. Here're some interesting facts (pilfed from Brijuni National Park Travel Tourism Guide) and when we visit we'll post up some pictures:

The Brijuni Islands had some Roman settlements, in the late 19th century the islands were used for their quarries, which have been worked in for centuries. The islands were dominated by Venice from the middle ages, and stone from the islands was used to build the palaces and bridges of the city.

The islands became part of the Austrian Empire in 1815, which later became Austria-Hungary. During this period the island quarries supplied stone to Vienna and Berlin. With the building of a naval base in the harbor of Pula, the Austrians built a strong fortress on Brioni Island.

In 1918 after WWI Brijuni was part of Italy and was separated from its Austrian heritage. Karl Kupelwieser, who was the son of the founder of the estate tried to maintain the former care but after the economic crisis following Black Friday, the estate went bankrupt and Karl committed suicide. In 1930 the islands were acquired by the Italians.

In 1945 after WWII Brijuni becomes part of the Yugoslavia. The communist state leader Josip Tito made Brijuni Islands his personal summer place. Slovene architect José Plecnik designed a pavilion for Tito. Almost 100 foreign heads of state visited Tito on his island, along with film stars including Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Sophia Loren, Carlo Ponte, and Gina Lollobrigida. Tito died in 1980, and by 1983 the islands were declared a National Park of Yugoslavia.

Tiger Feet


This time last year in Poland I put up a post snappily entitled "A Man called Horse and His Feet Called Zebra" which showed a photie of my feet, all stripey like, after catching the sun.
A year on, we're in Croatia but it's the same shagged sandals, same shagged feet (sporting the same striking sun tan) and only the title of the post has improved...
Maybe.

One FAHSAND, Innit?

The little gizmo when we log on advises us that this is our one thousandth post on the Blog ktelontour of the World and quite honestly I'm more than a little chuffed.

The original idea of the Blog was to relate back to our chums in Blighty Land that:

(a) we weren't dead and still having fun
(b) we were continuing to fulfill our dream of travelling around this amazing planet
(c) how we were coping with (b) and to pass on any tips or tidbits of advice that may be of use to anyone wishing to visit some of the places we'd been to
(d) give us something to do on a rainy day...

And despite more than few disparaging comments about "keeping it up" (the Blog, the travel or perhaps something else?) I think we've managed to discharge our obligations fairly well to date. You've even had the added bonus of my questionable humour into the bargain; although some may view this as a distinct burden.

Plus we've even picked up a few foreign readers along our travels. Mind you, to those good people I have to apologise for my appalling mis-use of the fine English language and thank you all for making the effort to persevere and work out what the Bejesus I'm gobbing on about. Sometimes it's even perhaps a little bit worth it.

What next, I hear you ask? Well, some more of the same of course- we've only just begun our adventure and after a mere year away we still have plenty more to explore, comment on and relate back to you.

So, if you're game, we certainly are.

:oD

Fazana in the Flesh











Global Warming

These scientists may be onto something here after all.

I can quite honestly state I'm a bit of a sceptic, but it has to be said it was a lot cooler a few months ago and now it's definitely becoming much warmer...

Come Fly With Me...Not

A travel company is being sued by a disgruntled customer because the plane was unable to take him on his holiday to Turkey.

The guy weighed in at 29 stone and despite being allocated a row of three whole seats, the fat knacker just couldn't fit in.

Perhaps he should pop into his local gym before making any further holiday plans?

Cherry Red & Apple Blossom White


Sitting out on the balcony of our apartment in Rovinj with this HUGE cherry tree just growing in the garden. A real, live cherry tree- not something we're used to seeing at all.

Making Bread

Is always difficult, which ever definition of the word you use. However, in the traditional sense we noticed our (new) local baker's shop and their posted opening times.

06:00 to 02:00!

Seriously; they stay open until 2.oo in the morning and then re-open at 6.00 am. And as we walked past around 10.00 pm last night, they were filling the shelves with all types of freshly baked bread and rolls.

Remarkable.

Perhaps it's keeping the excess number of Plod going because we saw them everywhere yesterday?

Further WSB News

Having briefly mentioned the World Super Bikes and the fun we had watching the second race (they have two races per meeting in WSB- only the GPs have the one off) in a bar in Rovinj, I thought I'd offer you a quick update in the positions:

Championship Standings:

1 James Toseland (Gbr) Honda 229 pts

2 Noriyuki Haga (Jpn) Yamaha 194 pts

3 Max Biaggi (Ita) Suzuki 191 pts

4 Troy Bayliss (Aus) Ducati 164 pts

5 Troy Corser (Aus) Yamaha 135 pts

There is still a long way to go but it's great to see such close racing and some of my favourites doing so well.

Tottenham Hotspur

In all the excitement of reporting relegation battles and the subsequent relief for both Bielefeld and West Ham hanging onto their top flight status, I have neglected to mention my Spurs.

Despite an indifferent start to the season, we grew strongly as the weeks went by and around the mid point stage had high hopes of progressing in all domestic cups, including the the Uefa cup.

Hindsight proved once again that this was a mere flight of fancy as we eventually got bombed out of all competitions, but the latter part of the season has seen Martin Jol's men get their heads down, grit their teeth and quietly grind out a few necessary results.

Having beaten Manchester City on the last day of the season, I can proudly advise you all that we ended up a magnificent fifth in the Premiership, identical to last season's standing. So two number five places in two years is showing a remarkable consistency and allows us to once again compete in Europe next (this) year.

Perhaps we may even win something?

Anyhoo- congratulations to the manager and the team for another good, solid performance made even more remarkable that we haven't had the cash to flash due to the limitless funds of a foreign sugar daddy...

Accommodation Observations

Admittedly early doors, but of the three apartments we've stayed in so far, only one had an oven- the rest had just a hob.

Beds are superb- big, firm mattreses and extremely comfortable.

You'll usually need to bring/buy washing up liquid.

And so far it's always a shower, not one bath to date.

Monday, 14 May 2007

Whistle While You Work

But not if you're English. The Brits are one of the biggest whingers in the workplace, complaining about lack of holiday, pay and commuting times.

They came joint second with Sweden (France are the biggest moaners, quelle surprise...) in a survey of 23 countries, which saw the happiest workers in Holland (see, making drugs legal does work...)

Equally surprising was that despite having by far the highest levels of income relative to their cost of living, America came in behind the top three.

Oh well, back down to the beach for me then.

:oD

A Mars A Day

Helps you work, rest and play- but only if you're not a vegetarian.

Traditionally, even vegetarians (three million in the UK) were able to treat themselves to a tasty reward of chocolatey goodness, but it seems that now this luxury will no longer be available to them.

Masterfoods have begun using animal rennet to produce the whey needed for its products, rather than a vegetarian alternative. The company is responsible for the making most of the popular British chocolate bars, including Mars, Snickers, Maltesers, Milky Ways Bounty, Minstrels, Celebrations chocolates, Mars ice cream, Tracker nut bars, to name but a few.

If I were a strict veggie, I'd not be best pleased...



Science bit: Rennet is extracted from the stomach-lining of slaughtered newborn calves, and is used in traditional cheese production in central Europe. In Britain a microbial alternative made from mould is used.

Trying to Beat the Smoking Ban?

Well, you can always turn to snuff, or "snus"; pronounced snooze.

It seems that "smokeless" tobacco products may be exempt from the impending smoking ban and popularity of this "less harmful" alternative is rising, particularly in Scandinavia where the oral snuff has avoided an EU ban.

Tucked between the gum and upper lip, the moist tobacco produces a juice that can deliver a bigger dose of nicotine than a cigarette, which should cure most addicts of their craving. Although how that is going to work whilst supping a pint is unclear to me.

However, it's not big, it's not clever and it's certainly not going to make you look cool and be a hit with the chicks...


Unlike chewing tobacco or smoking, snus does not increase rates of oral or lung cancer but it does increase the risk of cancer of the pancreas, according to research by "The Lancet" medical journal.

More Misery For Smokers

Not only is smoking going to be banned in enclosed public places (and at work) from 1st July in Great Britain, but there is now a call to do the same for drivers in control of their vehicles.

Serious consideration is being given to introduce a ban on smoking whilst at the wheel, not only on health grounds but also in an effort to reduce the number of crashes on the public highways.

If using a mobile phone or eating and drinking whilst driving is now against the law, I have to admit that it makes perfect sense to outlaw smoking too.


But I wouldn't worry too unduly if I was a smoker; it's hardly going to get policed, is it? All GATSOs can do you for is speeding...

Joost

Just been invited to join "Joost".

Nah, I'd not heard of it either until the weekend, when my old pal Trixy asked if we'd like to join. Not half, love!

Taken from Wikipedia:

"Joost (pronounced 'juiced') is a system for distributing TV shows and other forms of video over the Web using peer-to-peer TV technology, created by Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis (founders of Skype* and Kazaa).

Joost began development in 2006. Working under the code name "The Venice Project," Zennström and Friis have assembled teams of some 150 software developers in about a half-dozen cities around the world, including New York, London, Leiden and Toulouse. The teams are currently in negotiations with FOX networks. It has signed up with Warner Music, Indianapolis Motor Speedway Productions (Indianapolis 500, IndyCar Series) and production company Endemol for the beta.

In February 2007, Viacom entered into a deal with the company to distribute content from its media properties, including MTV Networks, BET and film studio Paramount Pictures."

This seems ideal for us on the road as we will not always have access to television and even if so, English speaking transmissions are not guaranteed either. We'll be trying it out and letting you know what it's like.

*Already a HUGE fans of Skype- we use it almost every week to keep in touch with friends and family. Highly recommended.

Plenty of Plod

Having taken a short walk around Fazana to get our bearings and pick up some shopping, we were quite literally amazed at the number of police and police vehicles we have encountered. At least five cars and two bike, plus Dibble on foot.

Can't work it out- it's such a sleepy, peaceful place. Unless they've heard we're in town...

Fazana

Is where we are now, which is a few kilometres away from Pula, Croatia.

We left Rovinj this morning expecting to get the local bus, but the son of the owner of the apartment where we stayed, Vedran, works in Pula and kindly offered to drive us there.

Not only did he go out of his way to take us to Fazana, but he also called the owner of the new apartments to get directions directly to the front door. Outstanding effort, dude.

Cheers, Vedran, the offer of a lift was superb and really helped as we had heavy luggage. Good luck when you go to Wembley to watch Croatia play against England later this year and I'm sure we both want Hrvatska to win!

First impressions of Fazana show it is yet another idyllic place. Great accommodation, the beach is a mere 300m away and the little village has plenty to offer with restaurants, bars and shops of all types.

Again, the weather seems to be getting hotter (perhaps late twenties today?) and if this carries on, we'll be jumping into the sea just to cool off. This is going to be some summer...

We'll lob up some photies in due course, but we're here for nearly two weeks so have plenty of time. Meanwhile, here's some stuff about where we are:

Insight into Fazana and Pula

Motorcycling in Croatia

They love their bikes here; both bikes and scoots. And they love to watch their racing too.

We were enjoying the afternoon sun yesterday having a drink al fresco, when we noticed the TV was showing the WSB (world super bikes) round from Monza, Italy. Whilst the Moto GP is still top of the pile as the blue riband of racing, we've also always followed the super bikes as well because the bikes were more obtainable for the man on the street.

(Indeed, I used to have a Yamaha YZF R1 (my 'Ard One) and I've test ridden a Honda Fireblade.)

I've been a fan of Biaggi (since his 125/250 Moto GP days) and Haga (quite brilliant Kapanese rider) and the current leader is a home grown lad, Toseland, so familiar names, familiar bikes and not to mention we've seen them all racing live before- an experience difficult to describe, you simply "have to be there".

What a bonus to be able to watch the racing in the bar, in the sunshine with the locals rooting for their favourite riders. Back home, if it wasn't football you rarely got a chance to see any alternative sports on the screen, so this was such a breathe of fresh air.

Great race too- my man Biaggi going from 2nd on the last lap to 5th after a bad corner/minor shunt and Haga running his wheels ragged to win by a mile.

We love it, here!