Saturday, 30 June 2007

Thanks to the Guardian

Food for thought as we approach tomorrow's "Anti-Smoking" Law in England. I've not even bothered to plagiarise it; just copied it in its entirety as it makes such good and interesting reading exactly as it is:

1 The number of cupfuls of tar found in a smoker's lungs when they die.

2 The tally of cigarettes smoked by John Hurt in a taxi during a seminal scene in the otherwise largely forgotten 1997 movie Love and Death on Long Island.
The exchange between his character, the dry, pompous, depressed and very English Giles D'Eath, and the driver runs as follows:

Taxi Driver: The sign says 'no smoking'.

D'Eath: No, the sign says 'Thank you for not smoking.' As I am smoking, I don't expect to be thanked.

Smokers everywhere cheered at its classic, brave, logical deconstruction of the passive-aggressive nature of such signage, wishing they sometimes had the guts to do the same, or at least to get into the argument rather than let the default setting of public life, as exemplified by these signs, continue to change from smoking to non-smoking. As we will find out on 1 July, they didn't.

3 The total of extra days a smoker takes off work each year, on average, through illnesses and complaints associated with the habit.

4 Multiply this by a million, and you have the number of businesses, ie all of those in Britain, which are being forced by law to carry prominent 'no smoking' signs on entrances to their premises.
Those who already have such signs will have to replace them with new ones of a minimum size, and extend the signage to company cars. The rule applies to companies even if they have never allowed smoking on their premises, at the risk of a £1,000 fine.
Sally Low, head of policy at the British Chambers of Commerce, has described the policy as 'bureaucratic lunacy'.

5 Smoking, it seems, causes five deaths in America every year.
Which doesn't, frankly, seem that much: hard to work out what the fuss is all about.
Sorry, there was a small misreading: it causes one in five deaths. And deaths caused by smoking in the UK were, in 2002, five times higher than the total of those arising from traffic accidents, poisoning and overdoses, liver disease, other accidental deaths, murder, manslaughter and suicide.

6 Millions of pounds - £1m a week for the duration of the campaign - spent by the government advertising the smoking ban.
This, of course, was a valuable public-service spend rather than a pompous vainglorious pat on the back, because naturally no smoker would otherwise have been even vaguely aware of the ban, and because it will make such a difference to the behaviour of non-smokers, all of whom were suddenly going to start up.
Had it not been for the advertising.

7 The number of planned attempts during 1960/61 by the CIA to kill Cuba's Fidel Castro, of which the 'exploding cigar' is the most notorious.
None was, obviously, successful; most were aborted for reasons of, basically, sanity. The others were: dosing his cigars with a virulent toxin and slipping them into his stash during a UN trip; lacing his cigars with a super-hallucinogen to embarrass him publicly by causing a wild acid trip; sneaking thallium salts into his shoes to make his beard fall out; contaminating his scuba-suit regulator with tuberculosis bacilli; placing an exploding conch shell at one of his favourite diving spots.
Fidel had his last cigar, incidentally, in 1987.

8 The number of hours it takes for the nicotine and carbon monoxide levels in a smoker's blood to reduce by half, and for oxygen levels to return to normal, if they stop smoking.
If they stay stopped, CO levels are back to normal in 48 hours, circulation improves within two weeks; in one and a half years your excess risk of heart disease will have halved.

9 Seconds it takes, on entering a private party or home, for a smoker to realise it's non-smoking and that they will be spending an increasing amount of time as the evening draws on standing outside meeting the other interesting people there.
Similarly; 24.3 is the average number of seconds a trained smoker needs to sniff the air and determine the nearest smoking area after walking through any airport's passport control.

10 Statistics tell us that it takes a whole decade after giving up smoking for the risk of lung cancer to fall to about half that of what it would have been had you remained smoking.

11 Percentage points by which drink sales are down in Scottish pubs since the smoking ban was introduced.

12 Extra years of life, on average, gifted to the non-smoker.
And the average smoker (30 a day) has four to six times the chance of having heart disease if he's in the 45-54 year age group.
And eight in 10 non-smokers live past the age of 70, but only about half of long-term smokers do.
And for men in their thirties and forties, smoking doubles the risk of erectile dysfunction
If a mother smokes during pregnancy, her baby will weigh on average six ounces less. If you put just 1/60th of a gram of nicotine on your tongue, you would be dead within 10 minutes.
There are many more of these statistics. Basically, it's not a very healthy thing.
Smokers, even, realise this. Smokers, especially, realise this.

13 Days left until the ban comes into effect in England. Also, 13 is the total number of cigarettes Humphrey Bogart smoked during Casablanca. Yes, someone must have counted them. Incidentally, no woman ever smoked during Casablanca; cigarettes are held but never lit.
And Olivia Newton-John never smoked in Grease; the cigarette dangling sluttily from a belipsticked mouth that helps her transform from prim 'Sandra Dee' to sex-bomb - along with a catsuit and mussed hair - was never lit.

14 Number of towns who have 'opted out' of the ban and in which you will still be able to smoke in pubs and clubs. They include Hull, Worthing, Kirby and Derby. Nah, just kidding.

15 Number of months it has taken, since the ban was introduced in Scotland, for the first person to come to court.
Pensioner John Wraith is accused of refusing to put out a cigarette at Burnett Arms Hotel, Kemnay, Aberdeenshire, and stands trial on 26 June.
He has admitted assaulting a barmaid, but still denies the (obviously far more serious) smoking charge.
Also, children who smoke are apparently 15 times more likely than non-smokers to begin using other drugs.

16 Quantity of cigarettes in a pub vending machine pack, as opposed to the usual 20.
This piece of long-standing larceny was often compounded by the fact that the machine would only take pound coins, that the cellophane was of a special type which made it harder to undo, and that the super-expensive cigarettes had somehow been packed in such a way as to let them all fall out on to the floor once you got the cellophane off.

17 Percentage of all deaths from heart disease attributable to smoking.
Also, 17 is the number of smoking 'engines and accessories' the impecunious protagonist surveys at one point in Kingsley Amis's Lucky Jim, because, 'as long as he could remember, [Dixon] had never been able to smoke as much as he wanted to'.
This, the early Fifties, was a different country, and a better book is hard to find to let us discover, or remember, how once, in Britain, everyone smoked everywhere, all the time.
Jim Dixon, a history lecturer, smokes on buses, trains, during lectures, even at guest-house breakfasts, none of it imaginable now. He is restricted from smoking more only by the price.


18 Years since a screen Bond has smoked. He was, in the books, a heavy smoker, up to 70 a day, although he was forced to cut back after being sent to a health farm in Thunderball.
In the films starring Connery, Lazenby and Dalton he was a smoker, while during Moore's and Brosnan's tenure he doesn't smoke cigarettes, although he does occasionally smoke cigars. Brosnan's second portrayal of Bond, in Tomorrow Never Dies, includes a sneering aside towards a Russian who is seen smoking: 'Filthy habit.'

19 Thousands of pounds a year currently being advertised as the salary for a 'smoke freedom officer'. The post, with Canterbury council in Kent, will include the task of advising landlords how to deal with customers who light up in pubs.

20 The seconds it takes for nicotine to hit the brain. At a prosaic level, when tobacco leaves are burned, the nicotine is inhaled with the smoke; it passes into the bloodstream and on to the brain.
The opposite, the most romantic level, is exemplified in Now, Voyager, when Paul Henreid puts two cigarettes between his lips, lights them and gives one to Bette Davis. But, as the ban nears, perhaps smokers will take as the film's epitaph not the moon/stars bit, but the quieter request to smoke and sit in understanding silence.

Moto GP in Holland

Unfortunately where we are currently staying, they haven't quite got round to installing satellite TV yet and so we are without Eurosport and therefore any means to watch the race today.

However, once again we can rely on Mad TV to bring as a full report with the usual flair and skill of a true fan of the sport. Sounds like we missed a great race, but so will many people if they have forgotten that Assen is one of the few (if only) races run on a Saturday; not a Sunday.

Well done to Rossi, it's sure turning out to be a fascinating season thus far.

Aussie, Aussie, Aussie; no, No, NO!

It seems that the Australians have had enough of our rejects and are refusing to take anymore convicts, brigands, parasites and wasters onto their shores.

Following claims in yet another "new" biography of Diana, ex-Princess of Wales (some more inane drivel entitled "The Diana Chronicles") where it was suggested that Prince William would love the ceremonial position of governor-general of Australia, the fine folk of down under have chosen to demonstrate their impeccable taste by rejecting the suggestion.

Fine call people- let's just leave him where he belongs, sponging off the British public with the rest of his family.

The Tooth Fairy

Remember the days when you lost a tooth as a kid and got sixpence if you put it under your pillow?

Nowadays, the tooth fairy "business" is worth an estimated £20 million a year, with each tooth costing an average of just over a quid. In the last twenty five years alone, tooth fairy inflation has leapt by 500%, whilst over a similar period, the cost of living has risen by just 150%.

Let's hope Gordon Brown doesn't get to hear about this or he'll be looking for Capital Gains Tax.

He's probably got Santa on PAYE...

Zadar's Sea Organ


This is the Sea Organ which plays music by way of sea waves and tubes located underneath a set of large marble steps.
The sea waves create air waves which are pushed through the 35 pipes end thus create random chords, depending on the size and velocity of each wave.
The construction in the background is the next stage of the project where they are going to create a solar powered light show for the evenings.

Fishing Burd



More photies on Flickr...

Well, That Was a First

Yesterday we were ever so kindly invited to join our hosts on their boat to have a lazy afternoon on the water.

Despite living next to the Thames Estuary for most of my life in Leigh (on Sea, see the connection?), I have never been on a private boat before and what a smashing time we had. The waters of the Adriatic were clear, blue and warm and quite essential to keeping cool in the thirty degrees plus temperatures.

And then we went fishing; another first.

Yes, at the age of 42, I actually fished for the first time. Something all little boys assume is a passage of rites, I had my maiden crack at it yesterday and can happily report I was absolutely shite at it and caught only more rays for my rapidly improving sun tan.

Wifey on the other hand (and who has insider knowledge having done this before) was onto a blinder and caught the biggest of the day (see photo later).

Which she also scoffed when our most generous hostess cooked the spoils of the day. I'd like to say I contributed something to the evening's meal but having caught bugger all squared fish, had to settle for the bottle of wine...

What a wonderful afternoon/evening- we left at 3.00 pm and only go back at 10.00; where did the time go?

Friday, 29 June 2007

If You Don't Ask You Don't Get

It seems her Maj is facing a property maintenance crisis as Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and Frogmore House, "her" buildings, are quite literally, crumbling away.

The damage is so severe that it is estimated it will cost an extra £1.0 million a year from taxpayers money to stop the "critical" backlog of repairs from spiralling out of control.

The Queen has approached the outgoing Culture Secretary to request the hand out, but fears she may not be successful as funding for the 2012 Olympics is taking priority.

At last, we do have one plus point for the London Olympics after all...






The Queen and her family cost taxpayers £37.3million last year and this total figure does not include the cost of protecting the Royal Family, estimated to be more than £100million per annum.

Spit & Polish

Gloucestershire Plod are fighting crime in their area by handing out dusters to motorists. The reasoning?

It seems that satellite navigation system users leave "sucker" marks on the windscreen where they attach the Sat Nav holder and this is enticing thieves to target these vehicles in the hope of finding the GPS hidden in the glove box.

2 500 yellow dusters will be handed out by Community Support Officers to drivers with Sat Nav/GPS units- presumably if you leave the tell tale marks on the window as proof of ownership...

You just can't make this stuff up. :o)


PS: I hope car drivers hide their dusters from public view...

Morris Dancing

Just one question.

Why?

Thursday, 28 June 2007

Just When the News Was So Good

With BLiar now gone, we hear that The Spice Girls have confirmed a reunion World Tour.

One of the talentless munglers wittered on about ""Girl Power is back and stronger than ever".

Yes, pet. "zig-a-zig-ah", eh?

God help us all.

:-(



You lucky people can catch their act on an 11 date world tour next December that will include stops in London, New York, Beijing and Buenos Aires. I can hardly wait...

Got Any Change?

Parking meters are to be scrapped in Central London as parking fees are now so high that Westminster City Council believe it is unrealistic for drivers to carry so much change around. In some areas it can cost up to four quid an hour!

Instead, motorists will use credit or debit cards to pay and they will be able to use mobile phones to set up an account with with their card and car registration details. Drivers will be able to text in the bay number and the amount of time for which they wish to pay, even getting a reminder when their time is running out and allowing them to pay for additional time.

When will it ever stop?

Joke

Heard about the one where BLiar resigned as PM and then went on to become peace envoy in the middle east.

This from the man who supported the war with Iraq?

Priceless...






OK, OK, I couldn't resist one last dig at the tosser.

No News is Good News?

Haven't been too active over the last few days as we're in Zadar and having fun exploring the new town. As you'll see from the photos, it's great with plenty for us to see and do.

We hope to get back into the swing of things in the next day or two.

And yes, I am fully aware BLiar has finally stepped down but I didn't want to dedicate a full post to his resignation. Let him sink into insignificance and anonymity and stay there.

He's done enough damage...

Shots of Zadar





More on Flickr

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Price of Petrol

In Croatia is about 77p/litre.

Has it reached a pound a go in the UK yet?

Ucka Mountain

Our trip saw us hog the coastal route along the Adriatic but we also had opportunity to drive inland up and through one of the magnificent mountains they have in Croatia.

At one point we went through the Ucka Mountain (1,400 feet), via a 5 km (~3 miles) long tunnel .

It is truly amazing what man is capable of- the tunnel was awesome.

Bed Designers

Are you all sadistic bastards who sit at your computer with Auto Cad to work out the optimum angle for protruding legs to inflict maximum damage on innocent passing bare feet, ankles, shins and elbows?

Utter gits!

Surprise, Surprise

We sadly had to leave Villa Brioni yesterday and were expecting a taxi to take us and our bags (only one each but they weigh a ton{ne}) to the bus station to get our coach to Zadar.

Our lovely host popped in to say goodbye (and gave us a splendid bottle of red wine; cheers) and we were becoming quite anxious as the taxi was a little late.

It arrived eventually but our host was concerned as we might miss our connection and had a conversation with the driver along the lines of "step on it, they have to be at the bus station by 09:30"- to which the driver must have been a tad confused.

What the ladies didn't know was that I had arranged for the cab to take us all the way to Zadar as a surprise for wifey! :oD

By the time we had paid all the separate fares and bits and pieces, and taking into account the huge discount the taxi company/tour operator had offered me, the price differential was only about twenty odd quid, which I had been saving up for my bike hire.

I figured it was worth it as we were getting a lift literally doorstep to doorstep.

So, www.istiatour.com, many thanks for the splendid service- the whole trip took about five hours but the driver and his father in law were great entertainment and the choice of music could almost have been lifted from our personal record collection. Hope you got back safely.

www.istiatour.com also do pick ups from Pula Airport to Fazana for a fiver odd. If you need to contact them, their email is: istria@email.t-com.hr and they will be more than happy to help.

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Smile, If You Can

Always fancied a pearly white smile but can't afford to visit your dentist to get it done professionally?

I'd not be tempted by the DIY options around.

Tests show that nearly 90% of tooth-whitening kits have too much bleach; 14 out of 16 products contained too much hydrogen peroxide and in one extreme case, the level was 230 times higher than the legal limit (0.1% of hydrogen peroxide is permissible).

Missing Plod

Speaking of the Rozzers.

One in five Dibble are unavailable for operational duties at any given time.

Although no exact reason was offered for this statistic, "paperwork" is assumed to be the reason as 71% of superintendents believed Home Office reporting requirements harmed the quality of policing.

Or perhaps because a GATSO can only take pictures?

Time Out

Philippine police in Manila gave pursuit to a fleeing thief but were amazed as he signalled a time out plea as he was gasping for air and couldn't continue to run.

They duly obliged the panting robber to regain his breath before promptly arresting him.

No donuts in the Plod canteen there then...




The guy had apparently stolen to expensive mobile phones from a nearby house if you were wondering.


A Thousand Words


Where we've been so far. Note BIG detour to Zagreb!

Farewell Fazana and Hello Zadar

Once again it's with heavy heart we have to bid farewell to what's been home for nearly a month now (off and on) as we embark on the next leg of our journey on our tour of Croatia.

Fazana has been yet another delightful discovery and we can see ourselves returning in time to come and settling a few months of the year.

We now look forward to leaving the region of Istria behind us as we travel southwards and into the region of Dalmatia and to a town called Zadar. This promises to be yet another exciting phase of this quite amazing road trip and we are very much looking forward to another new town to explore and get to know.

As ever, until we settle we are unsure of internet connections; whilst advertised with full access, experience has shown us not to expect everything as given, but hopefully as will be well and we'll be back on line in a day or two without problem.

Monday, 25 June 2007

Smoking Verboten

I've referred to the smoking in public ban due on 1st July in the UK quite a number of times and once again have cause to revisit this subject.

Sir Liam Donaldson said he plans to follow on from the legal ban on smoking in public places and proposes:

- cigarettes to be sold from under the counter
- graphic pictures of blocked arteries, rotten teeth and gangrene on packets
- banning the sale of packets of 10, often bought by under-age smokers
- and cutting from 3,200 to 200 the allowance for cigarettes imported from within the EU.

Must be great fun living in England if you smoke, but if you do, here's what you can and can't do:

Sports stadiums

Yes as long is there is no roof
No if it is a stadium of any Football League club

Offices at Home

Yes if only you work there
No if a work colleague regularly visits you

Vicars' studies

Yes if you alone work there
No if they receive any visitors

Office smoking rooms

No These are now banned except for on offshore oil rigs, Royal Navy submarines and ships, where it is difficult to smoke safely outside

Prison

Yes if it is in their cell
No if it is in communal areas

Care homes

Yes in a special smoking room or their own bedroom
No if it is in communal areas

Hotels

Yes in a specially designated smoking bedrooms, not in any other areas

Offshore oil rigs

Yes in a special smoking room, for safety reasons

Vehicles used for work

Yes if only you ever drive it
No if another person regularly uses it, regardless if they are in the vehicle at the time

Specialist tobacco shops

Yes but only for sampling tobacco
No for lengthy smoking sessions

Cigar clubs

No except for outside

Pubs

No except for outside

Restaurants

No except for outside

Bus stops

Yes if it has no sides
No if it has sides and a roof

Now you know...

La Baguette

Traditionally referred to as the "French bread" it is in fact, nothing of the sort; it's Austrian. So, seeing as we're being accurate, here are a few more tidbits about the loaf:

— The word baguette literally means “little rod”, and is derived from Latin baculum — stick or staff.

— A popular but inaccurate belief holds that baguettes were invented during Napoleon’s Russian campaign when he ordered a new shape of bread to fit down his soldiers’ trouser legs.

— They were invented by Viennese bakers in the 19th century, using a new steam-injected oven.

— The baguette became dominant when a French law in the 1920s banned bakers from working before 4am. The traditional “boule” took a long time to prepare but the baguette would be ready by breakfast.

Rain Stops Play

Flash floods and torrential rain are expected today, Monday 25th June, across much of the country, and the Met Office has given warnings of downpours that could dump a month’s worth of rain in a few hours.

Hardly surprising, Wimbledon starts today...

So, seeing as you won't be watching much play today, here are some snippets to keep you occupied:

Tennis balls

50,000 used. Stored at 68F (20C). New balls are used after first seven games (to allow for warm-up), then after every nine. After use, balls are sold to clubs affiliated to Lawn Tennis Association and spectators at £2.50 for three. Proceeds go to Wimbledon Balls for Schools Scheme. Yellow balls were introduced in 1986

Grounds

447,126 people attended the championships in 2006.
Approximately 6,000 tickets are available each day, which can change depending on weather and number of courts in play.
Capacity is 35,500 spectators. Church Road site covers 13.5 acres, plus 42 acres of car parks. Centre Court has 13,800 seats No 1: 11,429 No 2: 2,220 (plus 770 standing) Court 3: 800 Courts 6, 7: 250 Court 13: 1,541 Courts 14, 15, 16, 17: 318 Court 18: 788 Court 19: 305 Courts 4, 5, 8, 9, 10: no set capacity

Catering

Wimbledon is the largest annual sporting catering operation in Europe. On average the caterers FMC provide:

300,000 cups of tea and coffee
250,000 bottles of water
190,000 sandwiches
150,000 bath buns, scones, pasties and doughnuts
150,000 glasses of Pimm’s
135,000 ice creams
130,000 lunches
100,000 pints of draught beer and lager
60,000 Dutchees
40,000 chargrilled meals
30,000 meals for FMC staff
30,000 fish and chips
30,000 litres of milk
28,000 kilos (112,000 punnets) of English strawberries, usually grade I Kent strawberries
23,000 bananas
22,000 slices of pizza
20,000 frozen yoghurts
17,000 bottles of champagne
12,000 kilos of poached and smoked salmon.

More than two tons of strawberries are consumed daily during the fortnight with 7,000 litres of fresh cream Strawberries are picked the day before and arrive at Wimbledon at 5.30am

Grass

There are 22 grass practice courts in Aorangi Park and at Southlands College Centre Court: 110m long x 119m wide x 19m high Area of grass: 41m x 22m. All lines are 50mm wide, except base lines which are 100mm wide
Centre Court’s translucent cover, new in 1998, weighs 1 ton (wet and dry) and takes 16 people approx 30 seconds to cover the court.
Centre Court is under refurbishment. No roof in 2007. New fixed roof in 2008. Retractable roof added for 2009. Will also bring 1,200 more seats (lifting capacity to 15,000) and all seats will be replaced with wider versions

Royal Box

Contains 74 dark green Lloyd Loom wicker chairs. The Queen attended in 1957, 1962, 1977. Parapet at front is 2ft high, top of parapet is 12ft from court level.
Players
687 matches during the fortnight Men’s singles: 128 places (inc 32 seeds, 16 qualifiers, 8 wild cards) Ladies’ singles: 128 (including 32 seeds, 12 qualifiers, 8 wild cards) Men’s and Ladies’ Doubles: 64 pairs Mixed Doubles: 48 pairs

Foliage

Flowers: More than 50,000 plants supplied each year. Grass: Court grass composed of 100% rye grass (changed from 70% rye/30% red fescue in September 2000 for less wear and tear). Championships playing height is 8mm
Pest control
Hector the Hawk visits the club several times a year to ward off local pigeons, encouraging them to roost elsewhere. He also flies for one hour most mornings of the championships before the gates open.

Media

More than 5 million people logged onto the website wimbledon.org, viewing 180 million pages.
The large-screen television at the foot of the Aorangi Terrace by the side of Court 1 is 40 sq m in size. 3,137 media people accredited for the championships (692 press, 2,200 broadcast personnel, 235 photographers and photographic support staff).

Membership

There are four categories: full, life, honorary and temporary. Full and life membership limited to 375. All enjoy full privileges. honorary members, mostly past singles champions and others who have given special service to the sport, are elected by the committee.
About 120 temporary members also elected by the committee. Renewed annually. To become a member one must be proposed, seconded and supported by four existing full members, all of whom are required to write in support of the application.
About 1,000 are on the waiting list. Subscription and entrance fees are not published until candidate is offered a place.

Merchandise

The bestselling items in the Wimbledon Shop in 2006 were: 15,000 mini tennis ball keyrings 11,000 Men’s Championship towels 8,500 Ladies’ Championship towels 8,000 Twin wristbands 6,000 Slazenger mini balls

Officials

Chairman: Tim Phillips Chief executive: Ian Ritchie Referee: Andrew Jarrett Chief of umpires: Les Maddock Head groundsman: Eddie Seaward

Prizes

Men’s and Ladies’ singles champions: £700,000. Total prize pool: £11,282,710

Racket-stringing

The stringing team worked round the clock in 2006 to string 1,700 rackets – 60 per cent of them for men They used 34 miles of string, roughly 65% hybrid (gut and synthetic), 20% gut and 10% synthetic gut.
The record for stringing a racket at the championships without compromising quality is 14 minutes

All facts and figures cheerfully pilfed from The Times today.

Auntie Beeb

Figures out next week will reveal that the cost of running BBC 1 is £1.4 billion, up nearly £600 million than last year.

Although a precise, comparable figure for ITV1 is not available, it is estimated it spends about £1.1 billion, which is generated via advertising and not from licence fees.

The BBC raked in £3.24 billion last year, an increase of 4.6% on the previous year.

I wonder what happens to the other £1.84 billion? Surely not even Jonathan Ross gets paid that much?




Jonathan Ross in fact gets lobbed £18 million over three years...

Donington Grand Prix

Again, we watched the Moto GP on Eurosport but this time with added interest as it was being held at Donington, England.

As usual the racing was top notch and as ever I'll link you through to Mad's Gaff for a quite superb write up and details of this race, but for us it was amazing to see how much it was raining!

We looked out of the window of our air conditioned apartment and it was brilliant sunshine (as it has been for the last few months) and the temperature was into the thirties.

Miss England? Nah, don't think so...

More Photies

As found on Flickr

Enjoy...

Top Ten F*cks

10th - "Scattered F***ing showers, my ass!" - Noah, 4314 BC

9th - "How the f*** did you work that out?" - Pythagoras, 126 BC

8th - "You want WHAT on the f***ing ceiling?" - Michelangelo, 1566

7th - "Where did all those f***ing Indians come from?" - Custer,1877

6th - "It does so f***ing look like her!" - Picasso,1926

5th - "Where the f*** are we?" - Amelia Earhart, 1937

4th - "Any f***ing idiot could understand that." - Einstein, 1938

3rd - "What the f*** was that?" - Mayor Of Hiroshima,1945

2nd - "I need this parade like I need a f***ing hole in the head!" - JFK,1963

1st - "Aw c'mon. Who the f*** is going to find out?" - Bill Clinton

Again, perhaps not new but still makes me smile.

Sunday, 24 June 2007

Battle of the Sexes

Not entirely new in concept but it still raises a smile.

Gorra Lorra Bottle

But not for much longer.

The humble pint of milk is going all 21st century and will soon be available in plastic bags to combat wastage in the form of plastic bottles.

Waitrose the supermarket is leading the way by selling one litre bags of milk with a free, reusable jug for 91p (1.27€).

Who'd have thought it, eh? From being delivered directly to your door step in a glass, pint bottle to collecting the stuff yourself in plastic litre bags?

That's modernisation for you.

The Queen's Birthday Honours

Has bestowed a knighthood on Salman Rushdie recently.



I'm not going to comment on the rather heated and wildly over the top response this has generated from some corners of the world, but I just question why an author, and quite honestly not a particularly good one at that, has received this "award"?

What precisely, aside from doing his job, has Rushdie done to merit this?



Isn't it time we stopped this out dated, sycophantic, subjective, shameless and quite frankly silly tradition?







Mr Salman Rushdie was the subject of a fatwa after he published "The Satanic Verses" in 1988. The fatwa was issued by the then Iranian leader, Ayatollah Khomeini.

What's a Fatwa?

A Landlord's Lot is Not a Happy One

Currently, public house landlords are expected to display more than 50 signs and posters in their establishment.

This number will soon rise once the smoking ban comes into force in exactly one week's time.

There are also further proposals to make landlords display details of alcoholic units and "responsible drinking" messages on beer pumps and menus.

I wonder if the bureaucrats, who enforce these ridiculous directives, have ever heard of the phrase "you can't see the wood for the trees"?

50 Sovs

It seems that there is a shortage of fifty pound notes in the UK and this is being attributed to foreign workers being paid in cash and then shipping the notes abroad.

This is hardly new news, nor much of an explanation.

I used to "collect" (read save) fifty notes and the amount of hassle I used to have trying to obtain them.

Even when requesting them in the bank, you'd get the plumber's suck (deep, noisy drawing in of the breathe through clenched cheeks, accompanied by the shake of the head and a rolling of the eyes and the almost apologetic, "it's not my fault guv'nor; we've all got to make a living, but it's gonna cost ya" spiel) and you were rationed one, perhaps two at best.

Why?

It's not even as if fifty quid is a huge amount anymore (try getting a meal for two for less in a restaurant) and yet it comes over as if we're not to be trusted to use such a high denomination note, by our caring, sharing Government. The usual feeble excuse being counterfeit notes, but that is a poor cop out.

If the Euro can offer a 500€ note (~£357!) why can't England do something similar?



Note: At the last count there were approximately £6.5 billion of £50 notes in circulation

Wimbledon

Due to start tomorrow, this world famous tennis tournament will I am sure still be as popular as ever, despite rising costs to the punter, predictably wet weather and very little "home grown" talent to cheer on. And then you also get Cliff Richard sticking his beak in too.

I'm no longer an avid tennis fan (the passion for the sport died for me the day Bjorn Borg hung up his Fila shirt), but for those who are, here's a link to see if you're missing out:

Wimbledon

Speaking of tennis, this month sees the highest rate of smashed windows in the country; due to mis-hit tennis balls during the Wimbledon period. The number of incidents rises by 20% in June...

Saturday, 23 June 2007

COR! Super Whizzy Window's Vista



Screen shot of our desk top and the new windows select screen. Hours of useless fun...

1st July is Dawning

And to help those try to give it up, here's a nasty sta-testicle:

Amongst people who have had at least one puff of a cigarette, lung cancer will kill one in eight.

Our Mate Pussyhorse 's BMW...





Remember that building that collapsed in London a few weeks back?

It was in Dean Farrar Street, Westminster around 1600 BST on Tuesday 12th June*.

Well, our mate Rab had his motorcycle parked outside it...
Top photies, blurkie but real sorry to see them. Still, it's more of a bike than I've currently got.











Back up to Date

Which is where we are now.

I'm off to get used to the new toy (Windows Vista- snazzy but a bit 'foosing so far, so a lot to learn yet) and try to set up our favourite links, Skype, music etc.

We'll be back soon and hopefully we'll be able to offer you more of an insight as to what's happening at our end.

However, there may well be a small delay as we travel down to Zadar at the beginning of the week and who knows what type of internet access we'll get once we arrive.

Fingers crossed all works out well and we'll "see" you soon...

Nuvver Coach/Bus Tip

Remember we told you that they charge around 7 HRK (70p) to stow your luggage in the cargo hold of the bus?

Here's another tip.

Buy your ticket at the ticket office (although you can also purchase a ticket on board) and you will get a reserved seat for a small fee (30-70p).

Observations from a Bus Trip

Travelling by bus gives you plenty of time to see things and reflect on new stimuli.

On the approach to Zagreb city centre, I witnessed the aftermath of three separate car accidents (sorry, we can't call them that anymore, can we?) within the space of a few minutes.

The last time we drove a car, was way back in November 2006, nearly eight months ago now, and I don't miss it one bit. A motorcycle is entirely a different kettle of fish mind, and I am very much looking forward to hiring something when we stay over on another Croatian island later this summer.

But a car? No ta.

The nicest thing (aside from the amazing scenery of the country flashing past us as we drove inland) however, was on the return leg of out trip.

An elderly lady, travelling on her own, seemed a little anxious as she boarded the coach at Zagreb back to Pula.

When the conductor (all coaches have both a driver and a conductor here) came to her she gave him her ticket as requested and also pressed a piece of paper into his hand, containing a telephone number.

It transpired that she needed to call her son to let him know she was safely on the bus (she had not had the chance at the bus station) and so the conductor cheerfully rang through on his mobile and gave her the handset so that she could talk to him directly.

The woman seemed horrified at the prospect of speaking on a mobile herself, so the guy ended having a chat to her son explaining the situation to him, much to the amusement of the rest of the passengers. All this he did with a beaming grin and without any kind of ill manner.

Croatians are such a warm and friendly people, don't ya think?

So, The Final Costs?

Aside from 12 hours on the buses and another 6 hours at UPS HQ in Zagreb, in monetary terms it's cost us an extra £200 to retrieve our new, replacement laptop.

Hindsight, offering clear 20-20 vision, insists that I could have done this more cheaply and quickly by flying from Pula to Stansted for £65 return (flight time ~ 2 hours one way) and buying a laptop directly in the airport.

However, as I mentioned earlier I have become far more relaxed in my outlook to life and quite honestly, couldn't give a shit. Besides, we can't just run back to England at the first whiff of difficulty, can we?

The experience I garnered was invaluable and seeing Zagreb first hand was compensation enough.

The only downside for me was being away over night from wifey for the first time since we left the UK and that I didn't enjoy at all.

Taxi Fair (sic)

Hardly...

150 HRK (~£15) from the bus station to my end destination and yet a modest 50 HRK (~£5) for the return fare, using an identical route.

Why is the world over; infested with taxi sharks preying on bewildered tourists who naively arrive in a new destination directly off the bus or plane assuming they will get a fair deal?

It also highlights the contrast between bus fares and taxi costs here in Croatia.

£17 for a five hour bus journey compared to 15 quid for a ten minute taxi t(rip off).

Air Con Con

Note: Not all places that advertise air conditioning do so for free. You may be expected to pay 5-7 HRK per day for the privilege, so be warned.

A Brief Case Full of Gold

Now I know what was in the brief case in the film "Pulp Fiction"- a laptop.

I got back to UPS at 08:00 the next morning and everyone made a supreme effort to get all the paperwork completed as quickly as possible and just over and hour later (and over a hundred quid lighter!) I got my sweaty mitts on the spangly new lappie.

A taxi back to the bus station (a much more reasonable 50 HRK this time...) and by 10:00 I was on a direct bus back to Pula; this time only four hours journey time.

Life has regained its equilibrium and everything is back to happy time in ktelontour world.

Overnight in Zagreb

Found a more than decent hotel to crash the night and even haggled the price down as I was booking in late (19:00), leaving early (07:00) and skipping breakfast. With air con, sat TV and en suite, 300 HRK all in.

Not bad for an over-nighter in a capital city. Average London price I seem to recall is around £110 now.

Anyway, it gave me an opportunity to look around Zagreb and it really is a lovely city. Shame I was wifey-less so we couldn't share the experience, but I made the most of it nonetheless and walked for miles having a good look around.

I now have few blisters, but it was worth it.

Day Trip to Zagreb

It took some doing, but we managed it.

06:10 bus from Fazana to Pula: 30 minutes and 14 HRK

07:00 bus from Pula to Zagreb (via Rijeka): 5 hours and 176 HRK

Land in Zagreb without the first idea where the Customs & Excise/UPS gaff is so resort to taxi as time is running short- they are only open until 14:00!

12:15 taxi drive to locate Customs building: 10 minutes and 150 HRK! (Robbing gets)

12:30 find correct place and wait for the chap dealing with our case, who happens to be out on the road: 4 hours...

Finally met the guy who very apologetically insists on payment "unless you have brought the old laptop with you?"

The broken one languishing back in Fazana, a six hour bus journey away, being used as a door stop?

He admitted that even then it was only a slim chance his boss would allow the new computer to be released and so reluctantly I agreed to pay the duty: 1037.88 HRK!

And of course all the store people had gone home and so I had to return the following morning...

So, What's Been happening Then?

Lots.

Firstly, our old lappie byte the dust (v bad pun...) and is now looking like a glamorous door stop in sexy black.

No problem we thought, our new, replacement is in Zagreb and was due for delivery on the Wednesday.

Yes problem. On Tuesday we were informed that we had to pay duty on the item and we had to pay in person before they (Customs) would release our link to the outside world.

Arse...

Uh, Oh...

We're back!

:oD

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Jetski

Wonderful idea that essentially takes a motorcycle and puts it on the water for some awesome fun on the waves.

Wonder what the Russians call them?

Thought You'd Gone Deaf?

Don't worry, the fault is at our end.

Our lappie finally died a few days ago (over use?) and we're waiting on the replacement which is currently still held up in Zagreb, awaiting release over duty payment or something like that.

I'm now in Zagreb's UPS office (having just spent the last six hours on a bus to get here) trying to sort the mess out. It's not looking hopeful...

Then I have to get back to Fazana tonight, another six hours if there is a bus running.

Just oneof life's little adventures...

Sunday, 17 June 2007

Croatian Coaches

Make me laugh.

All along the windows you get repeated warning notices advising you to use seat belts.

And they've been taken out.

:oD

Royal Mail

Ever wondered what happens to "lost post"?

It seems that the Royal Mail see fit to auction "lost" items to help with its running costs...

A Royal Mail spokeswoman admitted:

"About 500 000 undeliverable parcels are sent to Royal Mail's return letter centre every year. They are kept for up to six months, after which a proportion (about 15%) are sent to auction, with the proceeds making a contribution to the centre's annual £10million running costs."

Some of the money was given to charity, but exact figures were not disclosed.


Anyone care to explain this one to me?

Olympic Logo

It's back in the news again; this time because the creators of the design have insisted that "it wasn't created to be warm and fuzzy."

They guff on, "its design is intentionally raw, which means it doesn't immediately sit there and ask to be liked very much. It was meant to be something that did provoke a response, like the little thorn in the chair that gets you to breathe in, sit up and take notice."

So does a picture of a steaming turd but it sure doesn't cost £400k.

Saying that my suggestion for the alternative logo would be much more appropriate as costs to host the London Olympics continue to spiral wildly out of control and the majority of the British public don't give a stuff...

'Ey Oop

A controversial new study has reached the conclusion that "northerners should be paid lower unemployment benefits and receive a less generous minimum wage than people in the south".

It goes on to argue that Gordon Brown's "unfair and intrusive" tax and benefits are fuelling a "dole culture" in the north, while penalising more productive southerners who have to suffer higher living costs and house prices.

Using a raft of official labour market and price data, the Economic Research Council's study says Londoners should get a minimum wage of £6.90 an hour, compared with the current rate of £5.35.

By contrast, the minimum wage for workers in the north-east should be slashed by 57p an hour to just £4.78. Substantial cuts should also be made to the minimum wage in Yorkshire (down to £4.95 an hour), Northern Ireland (£4.80) and Wales (£4.84), it recommends.

That's going to ruffle a few feathers but quite honestly, it's a reasonable conclusion. We already have "London weighting" for salaries, so why not apply the same approach to hand outs and subsidies?

Full report: The Telegraph

Our Current Gaff








From top to bottom:
Bed room 1
Sitting room, leading onto bed room 2
Bed room 2 (with en suite)
The view from one of the two balconies
All the apartments are of a similar high quality standard and perhaps now you can begin to understand why we don't want to leave...


Villa Brioni, THE PLace to Stay in Fazana/Pula

We were due to leave Fazana on Thursday (21st June) and make our way down to Zadar about a third of the way down the country. We had booked a fortnight there commencing on the 26th June, allowing us five days to "hop on, hop off" the bus as took our fancy to see a bit more of this amazing country and the astoundingly beautiful coastline.

Unfortunately, we have rather taken with Fazana, this picturesque, little fishing village and we didn't really want to leave so soon, but having checked out the website for Villa Brioni, everything is entirely booked up apart from Brioni I which is a double bed roomed apartment and way out of our price range.

I mentioned our reluctance to leave in passing with the villa's owners (they are very kindly awaiting the arrival of our laptop to their home address in case there is a delay or difficulty and have the distinct advantage of being able to speak Croatian most fluently!) and they made us an outstanding offer. We could have Brioni I for a HUGE discount because, and I quote:

"You made one mistake by looking in the pricelist, since that prices are only for foreigners, not for local people"

I'm not sure what pleased us more; extending our stay within our meagre price budget or being accepted us "non-tourists". :oD

Needless to say, we are very, very happy and we are now looking forward to a further five nights, staying in the lap of luxury, amongst the most friendly people one could hope to meet.

Villa Brioni, you will not believe the standard of this place. Absolutely first class.

UPS

As you are aware, our new laptop was sent out to us via UPS on Thursday (14th) and using UPS' tracking facility and the unique reference number, we are able to view the exact progress of where our package is.

We know, for example that it left TBS GB (my old company) and arrived at Stansted at 22:46, landing at Cologne at 04:40 and it was then shipped to Zagreb where it was logged in at 09:02 on Friday, 15th June.

The frustrating thing though is that it has sat there over the weekend and will not be released from storage until the working week begins and even more annoyingly, it will take another three days to reach us from Zagreb, the capital city of Croatia- a mere 166 miles.

It takes less than a day to get from the UK to Croatia but the last, short journey; almost spitting distance away will take almost times as long...

UPS On-Line Tracking Facility

Saturday, 16 June 2007

Scorchio...



We hear there's been a bit of the wet stuff in England.

This may cheer you up then...

:oD

For King and Country

Hot on the heels of his promotion to Canadian Tea Boy in the Army, Prince William has declared that he plans to leave the armed forces to concentrate on becoming a full-time royal, once his finishes his "military training*" at the start of 2009.

He plans to devote himself to "charity work as well learning about the 'art of kingship'" adding that he would not become a "full-time meet and greeter" as some of his family are.

Willy, me old mucker, you don't need any lessons in the art of "kingship"- you are clearly already a quitter and an expert work-shy parasite.

You are a natural, my son!




*Tea or coffee, sir? One lump or two? Would you like milk with that?

You'll Get No Tea

In 2004, the law was amended to permit a parent to administer “reasonable punishment”- including being able to smack a child, provided it did not leave any visible marks (read bruising). At the time, calls to outright ban "hitting" were rejected.

Until now that is.

A little over three years on, our caring, sharing Government, in its infinite wisdom, has decided to revisit this decision and reconsider a total ban on parents disciplining their children with a smack or similar.

That of course makes total sense.

For in the last three years it is clearly apparent how well behaved and considerate the British "yoof of today" have turned out, given the lack of permitted parental control...

Bucking the Trend

94% of websites have not been updated during the past week.

ktelontour, happy to not follow the norm.

:oD

Snouts in the Trough

MPs have been ordered to reveal how much they spend on their expenses; mortgages, furniture and cleaners for their London homes.

They are not happy and are trying to get this ruling overturned.

I wonder why?

Perhaps it may have something to do with their claiming on average £131 000 a year on top of their £60 000 salaries.

Expect some very red faces soon...

Friday, 15 June 2007

Drink Driving Limits

We've mentioned this before but once again the DD limit is in the news as it is being examined by the Government to bring the limits in line with the rest of Europe.

Most European countries have a limit of 50mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood, whereas in Britain the limit is 80mg. However, in the countries with the lower tolerance the number of fatalities has dropped sharply, whilst in the UK, drink-related deaths on the roads have gone up from 460 (1999) to 560 (2005).

The new limits could mean motorists would find themselves over the limit after just one drink. Personally I think this is a good move. If you're going to have a few beers just leave the car/bike at home and get a taxi instead.

The Cost of Proving You're British

Is about to rise again when the price of a full, ten year British passport goes up from £66 to £72 in October later this year.

The latest increase is supposedly due to cover consular services at British embassies around the world, to help fund aid for Britons who get into trouble overseas.

Which is brilliant as we may (hopefully not though) eventually need these services at some point.

Thanks guys, we love you all...


In December 2005 the full passport cost only £42, meaning that when the new fees are introduced there will have been a 70% rise in just twenty two months.

Bugger!


New Lappie

Has been despatched via TBS Ltd (my old company) yesterday and it will be here with us on Wednesday; yes, it's going to take a whole four working days to wend its way from Southend to Fazana.

However, we've waited this long and our current laptop seems to be behaving itself, so a few more days are hardly going to matter. Mind you, I am most keen to see what this new fangled "Windows Vista" is all about. Despite hearing mixed reactions from the people in the know, I'm really quite excited.

I'll make sure you'll all be kept fully up to date.

All Safe and Sound

As mentioned earlier, mum and aunt-in-law flew in from Dublin yesterday and they are overwhelmed at the apartment and the setting. How are we ever going to get them to leave?

Despite an hour and a half's delay, they were collected from the airport with a company we had found via the internet, offering doorstep to doorstep drop offs with no additional cost for the service, despite the long wait.

The price for this wonderful pick up? 70 HRK- less than seven quid. Try finding that in England.

So, we have the sun shining and everywhere is hot, HOT, HOT, but with the m-i-l now comfortably in situ we'll be expecting the rain to start anytime now then...

Dining Out

Once more I have to enthuse about our meal out last night.

Not just for the freshness of the ingredients, the high standard of cooking or the enchanting surroundings, as we dined outside way past 9.00 pm, but again due to the cost.

Fish soup with fresh bread
Vegetable risotto
Char grilled vegetable kebabs
Grilled squid with rice
Cucumber salad
Two glasses of house wine (white) and a soft drink (Sprite)

The whole lot? A tenner...

Thursday, 14 June 2007

My Sandals

Are no more. :-(

Lobbed all of our footwear into the washing machine on "hot" (well, super hot as it goes, to kill all the nasty germies off) and when they came out, they'd shrunk and were all buckled up, due to the high temperatures!

Guess who's going shopping tomorrow...

At least you can all expect a different type of foot marking/tan next year. :-D

Sorry To See You Go

As reported in today's Times (and no doubt in other national newspapers), the Prime Minister's Cabinet are being "asked" to donate eighty quid, per Cabinet Minister to a whip round for a leaving present to both BLiar and Prescott. If everyone lobs in, it is expected each person will amass £1 680 for their respective gift.

Luckily it's a BIG secret and so they should be in for a surprise...

Working Life

A recent survey revealed that people spend around five weeks a year gossipping to co-workers about their love lives, personal problems or changing careers and the majority of staff admitted to having an affair at work or knowing of one amongst their colleagues.

Must be a huge concern to you if you work from home or are self employed...

All at Sea

Being drunk in charge of a vehicle is no longer to apply to just road vehicles as the Government plans to introduce the same alcohol limit (80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood) to the seas.

The new law will apply sailors/mariners navigating a vessel longer than seven metres and/or capable of a maximum speed of more than seven knots.

So long to the usual tot of rum on the High Seas then.

Birthdays Back Home

Tomorrow it's Paul B and on Saturday it's Ted and our very own Minx's eldest son Sammy, who will be a most mature and grown up NINE!

Congrats to all the men celebrating their special days and I'll bet all the parties will be worth being at. Especially as I know what S is getting and I am just a tad jealous...

The In-Laws Mark II

Wifey's mum and aunt are due to arrive today for a week to soak up the hot sun, see some terrific views and generally get some R & R over the next week.

They are currently in Dublin as it worked out easier for them to fly from Newcastle, stay overnight and then onto Pula airport than get to Stansted Airport in Essex and fly directly.

You southerners don't know how easy you've got it with all the airports on your doorstep.

With the arrival of my in-laws we've moved from Brioni II (our last apartment downstairs) to the Adriatic Apartment, which has two bedrooms and two bathrooms, offering us twice as much luxury. As usual the standard is excellent and we're sure to more than just comfortable here.

Ooh, Shiny, Shiny

Just had word back from the UK that the NEW laptop our good friend H has ordered for us is now with them and hubby (a pc whizz) is sorting it out. If all goes to plan, my ex-company is going to DHL it out to us and it should be with us for the beginning of next week.

*yay*

Then we've got to find the wedge to pay for it...

*boo*

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

Hidden Costs

Moving house?

Best add on another £16 000, as this is what the average fees and stamp duty will set you back.

Ouch...

Tough on Some

Prison suicides are on the increase with numbers at two a week.


Seems like an excellent way to reduce the overcrowding problem...



Currently 43 self-inflicted deaths among inmates so far this year in comparison with 67 for 2006.

Another Gem From PaulR

"Why Can't I Own a Canadian?

October 2002

Dr. Laura Schlessinger is a radio personality who dispenses advice to people who call in to her radio show. Recently, she said that, as an observant Orthodox Jew, homosexuality is an abomination according to Leviticus 18:22 and cannot be condoned under any circumstance.

The following is an open letter to Dr. Laura penned by a east coast resident, which was posted on the Internet. It's funny, as well as informative:

Dear Dr. Laura:

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate. I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the other specific laws and how to follow them:

When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord - Lev.1:9. The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness - Lev.15:19- 24. The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?

A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination - Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this?

Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?

Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?

I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev. 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? - Lev.24:10-16. Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

I know you have studied these things extensively, so I am confident you can help. Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging.

Your devoted fan,Jim"

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

£400 000



For this?

Yip, nearly half a million quid is the cost of the logo to be used for the forthcoming 2012 London Olympics.

Bargain, for something I could jot down on the back of a beer mat in crayon in under 10 seconds...

** Update **

Finally we have confirmation that Bob Woolmer was not murdered, as Jamaican police announced their verdict a short while ago, ending months of speculation about the Pakistan cricket coach's death during the World Cup, held in the West Indies back in March of this year.

I'm not worried that there will now be lots of embarrassment, finger pointing and accusations, just relieved that a good and decent man's family can put this all behind them knowing it was just some tragic, early death by natural causes.

RIP Mr Bob Woolmer.

Calmer, Karma, karTER

Being on the road has really been an education and it has also taught me about priorities and what's worth getting worked up about.

Back in the UK, whilst always being fairly easy going, certain things would gain my undivided attention and I'd fight my corner, come what may.

Nowadays, life is too short and I'll give you a couple of examples of how "chill" I'm becoming.

We recently had visitors from the UK (the mad duo, Rainy and hubby, who rode all the way from Bath!) and spent a top day on the island of Brinoi. Part of the tour included a mini-train-on the-road type ride along the island and a stop off at the area where some of the animals were roaming around.

Each bench in the carriage allowed seating for four (slim) adults and we all sat together, leaving our bits on the seats as we alighted to view the zoo. When we returned, we found a couple sat in our seats, trying not to make eye contact.

"Erm, those are our seats"

"Yes, but someone has taken ours"

"Yes, but we're a foursome and you're sitting on our things."

Embarrassed looking away and fumbling of passing over of stuff...

Normal response as old karTER would have been:

"So, just because someone has taken your seats you feel perfectly happy to gate crash another area instead of asking whomever it was to politely leave, do you?"

Followed by up-seating of said interlopers forcibly by the ears.

New karTER, once having ascertained that our guest were happy to sit elsewhere, reluctantly withdrew from the potential ruck and calmly sat next them muttering how the new me was the improved version and now the meek shall one day inherit the earth.

Example two:

New next door neighbours, a group of young Italian (I think) kids having some fun in the sun.

We arrive back at our apartment to find they have left their swimming kit and towels on the clotheshorse outside, drying in the sun. No problem with that, but instead of leaving it on their patio, where it might be in their way, they leave it on the pathway which accesses our front door.

OK, a minor inconvenience but it's narrow and we have to brush past the hedgerow to get by and if laden down with shopping it could prove well tricky. And just imagine negotiating that after a few local beers...?

The old me would have politely have asked them to move it, But now? Who cares? The sun is out and we move upstairs tomorrow so it's not a problem.

See how travel makes you a calmer person. :oD

Neat Garden Ornament




Brioni Apartments have a lovely garden to one side and to the back of the building. Well tended and very pretty with beautiful, aromatic flowers, lush green grass, a sand pit for the kids, a robust and large barbecue (including a table capable of seating a dozen or so people under shelter) and lots of wildlife.


Including a tortoise.


She has been living quite happily in the garden for over a year now and yesterday we finally caught sight of the cute little armoured reptile. I can happily report she is healthy and well and is planning on what to spend her sponsorship money on...

Dictionary Definition

Of you.

Go on, give it a try: I'm Intrigued

I'm defined as "A person of questionable sanity who starts their own cult "

FAR too accurate...

At the Dentist

We've been putting off going to the dentist for a few months now (too busy...) but with over a year in the road, it's definitely time for a quick scrape and polish.

As luck would have it, we are situated directly opposite a dental practice and wifey decided to pop over yesterday to hopefully sort out an appointment for us whenever they could fit us in. She bravely left, clutching her phrasebook and hoping someone could speak a little English "just in case".

Nearly an hour later she came back all done and dusted and it was my turn- he'd seen her there and then and not only checked all her teeth out but had cleaned and polished them too. He spoke fluent English (well, American as he'd studied there) and wanted no payment. Wifey had to insist he take something for his time, so she forced a 100 HRK note (~£10) on him.

I nipped over for the same delightful treatment and was not only pleased to hear my teeth were in "excellent condition" and that I had "first class oral hygiene" but the tooth I had chipped back in Bielefeld last year was fine. No need to do anything to it at all.

Two tips our new found dental friend left us with:

(1) Always brush your teeth last thing at night and do not nibble anything afterwards- common sense, of course.

(2) Every month, dissolve a teaspoon of salt into a cup of water and gargle with the entire contents, ensuring all teeth and gums remain in contact with the saline solution, for a minimum of five seconds.

Do not be tempted to rinse afterwards and leave natural osmosis to take its course. This is the best thing one can do to ensure your teeth and gums remain healthy and will be invaluable for later life.

Oh, and the guy would not accept any payment from me after my check and clean- instead he joked about me buying him a beer next time we meet up in London. I think it would have been cheaper to lob him the tenner...

Amazing service and all happy for another year again.

Work Force

And continuing on the theme of working trends, the wasted talents of unemployed disabled people is costing the economy billions of pounds.

It has been estimated that by improving the skills of the 6.8 million (working-age) disabled sector could benefit Britain by £35 billion over the next three decades.

That is a huge amount of untapped resources and as we are aware, it is now illegal to discriminate against handicapped folk. Good.

Flexi Time

Research has indicated that companies are having difficulty in retaining staff due to the firms' inflexibility to offer flexible working hours.

Perhaps they could even try to pay a decent salary? That usually does the trick...





Of the companies surveyed, fewer than a third were found to offer flexi time.

When the Going Gets Tough...

And whilst on the subject, I note that nearly 1000 soldiers are currently AWOL (absent without leave) and since the Iraq conflict (I thought it was a war against terrorism?) there have been more than 11 000 reported cases.

No danger of our Prince Royal doing a bunk though, he's too busy making the coffee...

In Charge of a Deadly Paperclip

I see that Prince Harry is to continue his army "career" from behind a desk in Canada as a "staff officer".

No idea what that is and have even less interest, but I just hope all the other parents with their children in the Forces* can expect the same treatment.


*Or should that be Farces?

Bicycle Melons

Here's something I came across recently that made me stop.

"A bicycle helmet provides virtually no protection in an accident with a net speed difference more than 30 miles per hour."

So you look like a prat and get no protection after all? Outstanding.

Monday, 11 June 2007

The Late, Great Peter Ustinov

"Contrary to general belief, I do not believe that friends are necessarily the people you like best, they are merely the people who got there first."

Inspired.

Big Brother Britain

I'm not referring to the appalling programme loosely masquerading about as "entertainment", but to England and the government's obsession into ordering how its people should live their lives.

A very good friend of ours married a lovely Thai lady a few years ago and they have done nothing but be together in everything they have subsequently undertaken. From living together (naturally) to working together, they socialise as a couple and and they are quite honestly an amazingly, warm and friendly unit; completely in love with each other.

Wifey has thrown herself wholeheartedly into the "English" way of life sampling the great delights of binge drinking, eating poor food, learning to speak "Essex", getting used to the climate (!) and all this has been done with great charm, charisma and passion for her new home and lifestyle. And love for her husband.

An idyllic picture you may think. Well, it is, aside from the British government still has not issued a visa to our friend's wife and she has to sit "citizenship" exams and provide all sorts of other bureaucratic red tape nonsense.

They can therefore not travel freely throughout Europe as many of us take for granted or be allowed to claim anything from the state, despite making full tax and NI payments.

Hang on, she's married to a British citizen for years now and they still have to put up with this shite?

That'll be the British Government insisting they can tell who you can and cannot marry.

Tossers!

Motorsport

I'm not an F1 fan (two too many wheels) but I stumbled across the highlights of the Canadian Grand Prix last night and was extremely pleased to witness Lewis Hamilton win his maiden race.

I can't comment on the race itself as it was just the highlights and the commentary was in fluent Croatian but they did show his post race interview and I was gob smacked.

An English winner who can actually speak properly? Not just properly, but well. Heavens above. He'll be leading the championship soon. What? He is? Current standings:

1 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes (GB) 48
2 Fernando Alonso McLaren-Mercedes (Spa) 40
3 Felipe Massa Ferrari (Brz) 33

However, much as it was great to see Lewis win, the race was not the highlight of the weekend, that was firmly the Moto GP; the bike version of proper racing.

Valentino Rossi started from pole but as usual made a pig's arse of the start and Casey Stoner led from the end of the first lap, ahead of Rossi and Dani Pedrosa, until lap 17.

The lead changed hands three times just in that one lap to set up a fascinating and exciting finale, as neither rider managed to establish and hold a clear advantage.

Rossi tried everything he could on the final lap to regain the lead but the Australian's more powerful Ducati held on to take a thrilling victory.

Excellent race and for a full and far better report, catch up on it here:

Mad TV

Three Tone Sun Tan

I've always managed to pick up a tan rather swiftly and being in a sunnier clime makes this even easier.

You've seen the photographic evidence of the "zebra" like hooves and I've mentioned that I've even developed "go faster" stripes above the cheeks (where the arms of my sunglasses rest) but now there is a further grading of colour: my arms.

Just above the elbow and down to my hands, as dark as you'll like due to constantly being exposed to the sun whilst wearing a T.

Above the elbow and up to my shoulder, slightly lighter due to wearing of a sawn off T (sleeveless)- which is less often in comparison to a standard shirt.

Neck to waist (excluding bronzed, hunky arms) as pale as a vanilla milk shake. I don't do topless, for which the locals are probably most grateful.

I look like a Panda...

Tea Tree Oil

Blinding stuff and we swear by it. Great on bites, spots, blemishes; pretty much anything and it's an entirely natural anti-septic. If you've never tried it, give it a go and see for yourselves.

It's been difficult to get hold of here in Croatia, (although we have not tried a chemist/pharmacist directly) and so as wifey's mum and aunt are due to visit later this week, we've asked if they could bring us a small bottle of the stuff.

The last lot we bought was in Germany (Bielefeld) and for a 30ml bottle we were charged about 4.50€ (~£3.20) and this is a very good price.

On the phone to her mum yesterday, wifey heard that a 25ml bottle in England had cost her mother £7.50! Double the cost (and for less)? Excuse me?

And people wonder why we don't want to come back to the UK?

Job Lot

Noticed the pricing structure of drinking beer here. Roughly, the bigger the quantity ordered (by volume), the cheaper the cost- a bit like buying two halves is more expensive than buying a single pint back in the UK; usually.

It got me to thinking.

This is probably to encourage you to drink more, involves less labour, less washing up of used glasses and is generally a simpler process.

So, why not employ the same principal to glasses full stop?

The norm is to have a fresh glass per drink, but why not "reward" the conscientious re-user with a cheaper beer? After all, recycling is the new fad and you're helping to cut costs by reducing the (wo)man hours involved in washing glasses unnecessarily, aren't you?

And less washing equals less "bad stuff" released into our water systems...isn't this is the emotional blackmail excuse hotels use to not offer you fresh towels on a daily basis?

Or charge extra to have a clean glass with every new pint ordered?

It's all bollocks, isn't it? :oD

Sunday, 10 June 2007

Croatian Island Hopping

In pictures, can be found here: FLICKR

Big Thanks

To AUTOTRANS and JADROLINIJA without whom we would not be able to get around Croatia. Not only do Autotrans provide excellent coaches and buses, but Jadrolinija have superb ferries and boats, making island hopping a doddle.

In addition to these services, Autotrans have also sorted out our accommodation when we have turned up on spec (usually well after normal "office hours") and on every occasion they have done a splendid job for us.

Thanks, people.

Saturday, 9 June 2007

Coincidence?

I got caught short (probably because of my little legs) and needed shelter from a sudden shower whilst checking out the new sights of Cres. They don’t do a light sprinkling here but a monsoon type downpour, which if all you have on is a T, shorts and sandals is not a good situation to be in.

I just happened to be standing right by the entrance to a museum so jumped straight in. I was then promptly robbed by the attendant who demanded 10 HRK (a quid, but I’m a tight sod) and I was let loose to indulge in the delights of Roman stones.

Seriously, an exhibition of stones- all looking the same; found locally, dating back to Roman times. Whoopie doo. And there were two floors of this stuff.

It was then that I espied the visitors’ comments book and I just had to tear myself away from the attraction of rock gazing to put down some kind of witty comment.

But it was the last entry in the book that caught my eye- in German, it had been signed off with the two names and where they were from…Bielefeld.

Long term “ktelontour” Blog abusers will be aware that this is my birth town but what are the chances of that? It’s almost like travelling several thousand miles and seeing your next door neighbour in the supermarket. I bloody well hope not ‘cos he’s a right, grade “A1” tosser.

Spooky or what?

Chizened Onion

We’ve seen some great miss-spellings of translated menus on our travels but this latest one had us really chuckling.

Wifey, being a veggie and a huge egg fan is quite an expert on “101 Things to do With Eggs”. From frying, boiling, scrambling, poaching to making omelettes, eggs Benedict and Florentine; the list is endless and she’s done the lot.

However, we came across a new one: “Hammond Eggs” and wifey was most excited- a new egg dish she could try; perhaps named after the inventor?

It took us a little while to suss it out, but in the end the penny dropped.

The translator had obviously misheard and should have written “Ham and Eggs”…

Pint Over Punter

Anyone think we spend far too much time in the pub? Here’s yet another little gem that made me laugh as we enjoyed the local hospitality.

A single barmaid was serving the entire place and as ever, coping splendidly on her own.

She came back to a table with a group of mixed company, two burds, two blurks and placed the coffees in front of the lasses. The guy nearest to her had his beer put down and she then went to do the same to the chap sat opposite; the furthest from her.

Somehow though she must have stumbled or tripped (send us a postcard) but the end result was a classic “pint of wet stuff over the hapless customer” stunt. Outstanding- she literally covered the bloke from top to toe; T shirt and shorts sodden and dripping.

However, the best was still to come. Instead of apologising, the waitress seemed to blame the guy and still produced a bill for the round.

Wine Spritzer; A Burd’s Tipple?

I’d suggest not.

A group of about five men came and sat at a table next to us. The waitress came over to take their order and returned with a glass of wine for each of the chaps. The first drinks barely touched the sides of the glass and another round was ordered, but this time the waitress came back with a couple of bottles of the wine, two jugs of sparkling mineral water and a huge bucket of ice.

This set the scene for the evening until one by one they all left the bar, slightly worse for wear with the last gadgy getting up to go and deciding to announce his departure with a little more gusto for being king of the hill and the last to leave. He upended the replenished ice bucket in a spectacular fashion ensuring the entire bar floor space was covered in glistening lumps of frozen water.

8.7/10 for artistic impression but only 6.9/10 for actual performance as he did not keel straight over.

Midnight Music

We’ve had a rather splendid meal. We step out into the warm and inviting evening air and in the distance we hear music. Not recorded music but live music and it’s not your standard stuff either, but traditional Croatian folk music. As we round the corner, the six piece band are centre stage on the ramparts of the town’s castle, performing to a most appreciative audience (tourist, naturally).

It’s nothing flash, a couple of spotlights and some amplification and the only instruments the guys are playing are classic guitars and lutes but they were really quite amazing. Very talented, clearly enjoying themselves and enthusiastically encouraging the audience to join in. Question. Why on earth do Germans think that clapping out of sync and rocking back and forth (also out of time with each other) is de rigueur?

Anyhoo, the point of interest was that it was a normal Monday night and it must have been approaching the midnight hour- not your normal night out now, is it?

Barfin' Burd

Anyone a Ramones fan? If so, remember a song called Surfin’ Bird? Nifty title, huh?

So, having introduced this post in a most tenuous manner, on with the tale.

We were enjoying a night out in a local restaurant, when a young girl (12? 13?) came in with her father, who went to the bar. The girl waited by the door whilst her old man paid the bill (the family had been dining outside in the balmy night air) and just as he was getting his change, she rather unfortunately threw up- EVERYWHERE, right over the front door mat, in front of all the passers by, checking out the menu.

It wasn’t so much the action that intrigued me, as to why she had vommed. Was it the food? Had she been sneaking a drink from her parents’ glass? We’ll never know, but the restaurant staff were as good as gold putting the soiled mat straight into a plastic rubbish bag and scrubbing the doorstep down with disinfectant.

Autotrans

Since we’ve arrived in Croatia, we’ve been using Autotrans exclusively to travel between towns and I have to say they’ve been absolutely marvellous.

Cheap, reliable, (almost) punctual and highly efficient and we’d not be where we are now without them.

Until yesterday that is.

We needed to get from one side of Krk island to the other in order to catch our ferry to Cres and wandered down (in good time) to the Autotrans office where we were informed that there was a connecting route, via Malinska. Just the one change and the next coach even went directly onto the ferry and then onto Cres town, where we were hoping to stay; all for the princely sum of seven quid/head.

We were informed we would have a 20 minute wait for the connecting bus to arrive and we could even pay for our tickets all the way through, (including the ferry) right there. Job done and we arrived in Malinska as planned and waited for our next bus.

Half an hour later we figured the bus was late and located the Autotrans ticket office where another English speaking lady advised us (rather sheepishly) that the 12.10 from Malinska to Cres had in fact been discontinued and no longer ran. Apparently “everyone knows this” aside from the computer and the person who sold us the tickets in Krk!

To cut a long (and it was long) story short, we had another six hours before the next bus was due- they only run two a day; a morning and evening transfer and so we had an extended, unplanned stay at Malinska on the island of Krk and most enjoyable it was too.

So what if we had a few hours delay? We have all the time in the world…

View From Our Room in Cres


Monday, 4 June 2007

Euro 2008 Qualifiers

I mentioned the Croatia game a few posts back and that it wasn't quite the performance it should have been.

Well, the Germans kept up their 100% unbeaten record by beating San Marino 6-0 in Germany on Saturday and remain comfortably on top of their league. This has been seen by some as a bit of a disappointment as they beat the same team (away last time) 13-1!

England on the other hand have a tough time on their hands, currently sitting in 4th place in their respective league, behind Croatia, Israel (played an extra game) and Russia. They take on Estonia on Wednesday and have no option but to win.

I don't see this as a problem so wish them and Germany (playing Slovakia) both the best of luck.

Another ktelontour Tip

Got some flat Coke?

Well, don't chuck it out, just fill your ice cube tray with the left over liquid and lob it in the freezer.

Hey presto, perfect "ice cubes" that don't dilute a fresh glass of the thirst quencher.

Scooter Hire

Still missing two wheels horribly and so we continue to check out hire prices from town to town.

And as places become more popular, so too does the need for loaning bikes and scooters. Best price so far for an autospastic scoot is down to thirty quid per day. They even do quad "bikes" at thirty five sovs for 24 hours.

I am getting sorely tempted...

Off to Cres Next

We've had a fun time in Krk (our favourite island to date) but it's time to leave and we're off tomorrow morning to get the ferry to Cres, situated a little south-west of our current position.

No idea what to expect, aside from another gem of a place no doubt, but we have nothing booked, no idea what time we're arriving and are just playing everything by ear again.

Hopefully we'll have access to the internet but quite honestly it's no big deal as we're doing this to see all these lovely sights and not stare at a screen or keyboard all the time. Saying that, we'll be back in Fa┼żana next week and we'll have full access to broadband there, so we'll all just have to be patient until then. :oD

Sunday, 3 June 2007

Happy Birthday, Eva

One of our cousins celebrates her 40th today (although I suspect it was last night for the BIG party) and we'd like to wish her many happy returns of the day.

We'd dearly have loved to have made it back for the bash in Berlin this weekend, but flight connections just did not make it a viable possibility on this occasion. :-(

However, we will be raising a glass to you on your special day and wishing you the very best for reaching this landmark. Here's to the next forty years.

Generous People

I’ve already banged on about this previously but once again I am compelled to reiterate the outstanding generosity of the Croatian people.

We decided to return to Fazana a few days earlier to make sure all is ready for the arrival of wifey’s mum and aunt for their summer holiday (and the fact we love the place) and so booked up at Brioni apartments again.

We’ve just had a email directly from Alberto, the owner, saying that unfortunately the prices had gone up (as we’ve now entered June) but as we’ve been regular customers, he’s offered us a 20% discount for our stay.

Further; that as we’re going to be arriving at Pula from our island hopping, he’d arrange for his mum to collect us from the bus station- a good half an hour by bus for us normally.

Whilst I appreciate that these guys are in the tourist business and the need for customer care is always necessary, this really is beyond what is expected from any host. Reckon you’d see this kind of service back in the UK?

Anyway, we are eternally grateful to both Alberto and Mirjana for their outstanding hospitality and look forward to seeing them again soon and to enjoy their magnificent apartments. And don’t just take our word for it- don’t forget Mr & Mrs Rainy rode 1300 miles to check out their accommodation and they loved it.

Honest as the Day is Long

We’d popped out to pick up some shopping at the local supermarket and as usual had taken our baseball caps. Very handy to keep sun and rain off your bonces and invaluable on our travels.

We were queuing up at the check out and we noticed a blue adidas cap, hanging up on a hook where shoppers leave their shopping bags and trolleys before entering the store.

I commented that it looked very similar to wifey’s and it turned out to be hers- she’d left it next to the cherries as she weighed some out.

OK, it’s not the newest of headgear, but it is still a quality brand and very useful to us so I’m glad it was handed in. I’d also like to think everywhere would be that honest.

The Dog's Bollocks

We found our bar last night that showed the game (so much for my prediction; a very poor 0-1 to Croatia but enough to keep them top of England’s group) and it was rammed full of the locals all mad keen on watching the game.

One of the supporters had brought his dog along and was he the centre of attention.

The barmaid brought over a bowl of water- filled with mineral water no less, he then drank his fill and flopped down right in the middle of the bar and one guy even went out to buy a vanilla cone which the dog greedily wolfed down in one.

The bar itself was pretty laid back too. As the game progressed, people began calling up the local pizza delivery guys to drop off hot scoff directly to the pub. No one batted an eye lid as huge boxes of steaming, cheesy delights were brought in and the locals all tucked in.

That was quite possibly the first time I’ve missed my mobile since we left the UK…