Saturday, 29 December 2012

P&O AZURA CHRISTMAS CRUISE TO MADEIRA & CANARY ISLES

I did cover some of the cruise whilst on the ship but Internet access is slow and extremely expensive so I was limited to what I could write. 

This is the story. The day before we sailed I received a txt message to say that embarkation had been delayed from 10 am to 1 pm.  No explanation.  OK, I was travelling by coach from Nottingham so I 'phoned the coach company to ask if the coach would also be delayed.  They claimed to know nothing about the delay and said I was to join the coach at 8.30 am as scheduled.

Our clue to the delay came from our coach driver who dropped the nugget "you are about to join a ship that is being deep cleaned because of Norovirus".  Help!  Your read of this and it's not something that you would wish at any time, let alone Christmas.

He said he was going to sansy doodle along the route and make an unscheduled stop at a service station because it was better to spend time there than at the docks.  He wasn't kidding. When we finally had clearance to enter the departure terminal it was absolutely chaotic. Information was minimal, announcements indecipherable, no refreshments unless we paid exorbitant prices at a coffee concession and not enough seats.  In these modern times the "jobs worths'" become even more surley and determined to make every ones life a misery!

3+ hours later we eventually battled our way onto the ship which was an oasis of tranquillity.  Everything was calm and well ordered.  No hint of the mania going on in the terminal.  Quite surreal! 

Amazingly enough we did sail on schedule and after the safety muster the Captain explained that they had had and outbreak of Norovirus but the ship had, indeed, been deep cleaned and if we followed recommended procedures regarding frequent hand washing etc. things should be fine. 

We then sailed into a force 9 gale with 8 mtr high waves resulting in the ship rocking and rolling for 3 days!  We were later informed by the Captain that these were the worse sea conditions he had encountered in 20 years of sailing, but the upside was that it helped to contain another outbreak of the virus because instead of spreading it around we were mostly confined to our cabins throwing up! Cheers.

I thought things were pretty serious when the Captain announced that the "Captain's welcome aboard champagne reception" was to be cancelled because "I'm sure you would prefer that the Officers were on the Bridge keeping you all safe".  What!!

Apart from that it was a great trip.  I met some lovely people, eat far too well, enjoyed the shows and entertainment, and finally felt the warmth of the sun again.  But, by gum, it was good to be home again. 

Oh! and before I went I had this premonition that I was going to leave something behind.  I did.  My camera! 

King Ozymandias of Assyria was running low on cash after years of war with the Hittites. His last great possession was the Star of the Euphrates,  the most valuable diamond in the ancient world. Desperate, he went to Croesus, the pawnbroker, to ask for a loan. Croesus said, "I'll give you 100,000 dinars for it". "But I paid a million dinars for it," the King protested. "Don't you know who I am? I am the king!" Croesus replied, "When you wish to pawn a Star, makes no difference who you are."

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Monday, 24 December 2012

BLOGGER TROUBLES


I was speaking to a couple at dinner last night who said they had been cruising the world for over 30 years and the 3 days we spent in the Atlantic storm coming out of Southampton was the worse they had ever known.  They said that ship felt as though it was going to break up at times.  And I thought it was just me being panicky!   I know when we went through rough seas in the North Pacific coming into Alaska the waves were much higher but the motion wasn’t nearly so bad. The worrying thing is that we have to go through those waters again on the way back!  Let’s hope that God is not in such a bad mood this time.

So, that’s the Canary Isles done. Tick. Next stop Lisbon. Yesterday we went on a Tapas &Wine tour which sounded fun, but the motion of the coach navigating steep inclines and tights corners coupled with extra soft suspension made me feel queasy and I spent the rest of afternoon wanting to throw up on my fellow passengers who were getting progressively paralytic and sillier by the minute. 

On our 2nd day at sea we had to book our table for Christmas dinner.  When we met our new friends John and Julie we wished that we had met before we made the reservations so that we could have had Christmas dinner together and then we found out that we are actually on the same take anyway!  How odd is that?.

We did” Gran Canaria in a taxi with another couple we have met up with.  We negotiated the price down from Eu100 to Eu80 for a 3 hour tour and had a great time.  The taxi driver spoke little English but was a bundle of fun and between us we learnt a little Spanish and he learnt how to pronounce Islands.  He was saying Icelands!  It took us a while to figure that one out. 

He turned out to be a football fan (now there’s a surprise) whose forte was to recite the players, clubs and managers of English foot teams.  Oh! How we laughed!  We enjoyed it so much that we are now going to "do" Lisbon in a taxi too.  It will probably turn out to be a nightmare.

Blogger is being a real pain at the moment, so I will have to cut this short.  I'll catch up when I get home. 

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

WE ARE SAILING, WE ARE SAILING

Here I sit on the P&O Azura having spent the, day in Madeira fulfilling one of the wishes on my “bucket list” – cocktails at Reeds Hotel, Madeira.  How mad is that?  Last week I was in England trying to keep warm and here I am 6 days later in sunshine.
 
The cocktail was good, the hotel was snooty, the view was spectacular, been there, done that, move on.  Petra next?  Who knows!

I never thought that I would take to cruising, and to tell you the truth I’m still not sure about it.  But all I can say is that there is never any need to feel bored or lonely.  Plenty to do, masses of people to talk to, some interesting who have the potential of becoming lifelong friends and some maddening who I would never wish to see again. The interesting ones I seek out and the boring ones I avoid (easily done amongst 3100 passengers and 1200 crew.

Speaking of crew, our Captain is really good looking and really young!    I suspect that he is even younger than most of my grandchildren.  He is probably a naughty little boy really.  I wonder if his mother knows he is in charge of this big ship?

What do you think of this joke?  I was told by entertainment staff  at our dinner table last night:-

An Englishman, Scotsman and Irishman were discussing what the fastest thing in the world was.  The Englishman said he thought that electricity was the fastest because you flick a switch and on comes the light.  The Scotsman disagreed, he thought that the mind was the fastest thing in the world because your body reacts to thought instantly.  The Irishman said “Oh no, I think that diarrhoea is the fastest thing in the world”.  The other two looked at him in amazement.  “Diarrhoea?  How can you possibly think that?” “Well yesterday I had diarrhoea and I didn’t have time to switch on the light or even think about it!”  Boom, boom!

Funny or what?

Friday, 14 December 2012

A VERY, VERY GOOD NEW WORD

INEPTOCRACY

 A system of Government where the least capable to lead are elected by the least capable of producing, and where the members of society least likely to sustain themselves or succeed, are rewarded with goods and services paid for by the confiscated wealth of a diminishing number of producers.

And there you have it my friends, the Brave New World in a word, ineptocracy. Worrying isn't it? 

But am I bothered?  Does this face look bothered? I intend to lay back and enjoy my Christmas cruise to Madeira via the Canary Isles and Portugal.  They are going to find it hard to confiscate my meagre wealth if I've already spent it!!  Or will this be considred a form of tax avoidance?. 

So if you read that a crazy 72 year old great grandmother has been banged up for the heinous crime of enjoying herself, that will be me! 

Sunday, 2 December 2012

BISH, BOSH, BAM

THE EYESORE OF A BLACK "BUNGALOW" IS
DEMOLISHED  AND THE NEW BUILD IS ABOUT TO START
Some time ago (about 5 years ago to be vaguely precise!) we started the arduous process of applying for planning permission to build a  new house to replace the monstrosity of a black corrogated building nextdoor to where I live.








At the moment I'm too traumatised to go into detail about unhelpfullness of the local planning department. Suffice to say that I ended up putting in an official complaint which was NOT upheld (now there's a surprise). With the country in such a perilous financial state you would think they would ease the process and get money moving, but no, they are bunch of total tossers.

When I feel in a "safer" place, as in I don't want to piss them off too much until the house has been built, I'll tell the full story.  Warts and all. 

The new house will be home for my granddaughter and her delightful family.  It will be wonderful to have them living nearby. 

In the meantime, life goes on.  Well it does for me anyway, but not my poor car!  It got sick this week and I have reluctantly decided that it's not worth spending £2000 to fix her up when she is only worth £4000!  Poor old girl. I loved her to bits.  But unfortunately cars, like pets, don 't live forever.  So this week I take delivery of a beautiful glossy black Audi A4 saloon with only 14,000 miles on the clock and a host of bells and whistles.  I freaked out the salesman by saying that it would probably last longer than me.  He didn't know how to respond and dealt with it by saying nothing. I wish I could learn that skill.  In my case, what goes through the head comes out the mouth. and unfortunately it's usually total bilge.

And I'm writing this total bilge because I can't be bothered to do my christmas cards.  But, hey ho, I'd best crack on.  But before I go tell me this and tell me no more, why does Christmas come so early each year now? And, while I'm on the subject,  where have the long  hot summers gone to? OK! OK!  I'll shut up.  I'm off now - TaTa xxxx.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

I GIVE UP

This morning the BBC reported that Rotherham Borough Council took three children away from their foster home because the foster parents support UKIP.  Their reason?  They said "these children are not UK children" and UKIP is a racist political party.  WHAT!!!  Read their manifesto you idiots.

The children had happily been with this family for several months and even started calling them mum and dad.  What sort of imbicile would have taken that decision.

No, don't answer that, let me.  The same sort of imbiciles that I am dealing with at my local planning office. They don't have a brain between them. Enough said.  It makes me rage.

Friday, 23 November 2012

A GREAT GRANDMOTHER'S RITES OF PASSAGE

From time to time I have mentioned some of the famous people that I have met over the years to my two great granddaughters only to be met with blank faces.  It then became a challenge.  Surely I must have met someone that would impress them.

"I was once introduced to the Prince Andrew, Duke of York and spent an hour in his company" Nothing!

"I am friends with Gilson Lavis, the drummer with Jools Holland" "So what, we know him too!"

"I worked with a guy who was suspected of helping the Great Train Robbers" "The Great who?"

"I went to school with Bill Wyman from the Rolling Stones" (This is stretching the truth, he went to the boy's school, I went to the girl's and never the twain shall meet).  "What's a Rolling Stone?".

" I tricked Rick Wakeman (a rock legend) and Francesco Da Mosto (a devastatingly handsome aristocratic Venetian architect) to propose marriage to me IN WRITING at book signings."  "Never heard of them".

"One of my friends was in San Francisco in the "summer of love" with her rock star husband Keith Relf   from the Yardbirds.  She knows Eric Clapton." "Summer of love? What do you mean?"  (Better not go there!)

"My TV Producer friend got your mother a bit part in a TV series featuring Julian Clary." "Did she get paid?"

"Tom Jones laughed at me when I drove past him, recognised him and involuntarily slammed on my brakes." "Lucky you didn't cause an accident".

But last night I believe that I finally cracked it. On TV, Tulisa, one of the X-Factor judges, happened to mention that her father and uncle used to sing with Mungo Jerry.  I knew Ray Dorset from Mungo Jerry because he used to drink in my local pub.  I texted that information to my granddaughter and she texted back "They're impressed!".

BOOM!!!!











Saturday, 17 November 2012

BLOGGER OR GOLF - WHICH IS THE MORE FRUSTRATING?

Is it me but has "blogger" got more complicated?  Once upon a time I used to understand what I was doing (ish!), but now I have to belong to a social network site and + share or google + and the new, simplified, (that's a laugh) all singing and dancing design section is totally beyond me. 

And why am I always being accused of being a "robot" just because the stupid word verifier doesn't understand what I type?  And why, when I switch on the audio word verifier does it spout out letters I can't hear or understand? Where has the "follow" button gone and why don't they leave things alone?  Grrrr!

Apart from that I'm OK.  In August I took up golf and last Monday graduated from the baby course to the grown up coarse.  The baby course (known as "The Academy") is a 6 x par 3 hole course.  My best result on that was 29, my worst 42 shots.  Not good.  But onward and upward, my buddies and I decided to graduate.

Hole 1 on the grown up course is a par 5, I did in 17!  After that I stopped counting.  It was a nice sunny day, why not just enjoy the walk? (I know, before you say it, golf is a good way to ruin a good walk!)  My buddies are not experts either so we dropped the element of competition and when another couple came hot on our heals instead of waving them through we just picked up our balls and walked on to the next tee.  Unfortunately the couple could play faster than we could walk, so we basically ended up walking the course. 

At the 19th hole they tried to teach us "golfing etiquette" by explaining that we should have simply stood to one side and waved them through.  They couldn't quite grasp that we are a bunch of idiots who WANTED to pick up our balls. When the truth of this finally dawned on them, they scratched their heads and ordered a double brandy each. 

Next Monday I'm praying for rain.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

UMMMM?

Do I write about the evil bastards that have the knowledge of the paedophile rings operating in high places or do I write about the tossers in my local Planning Department.

Well, the current child sexual abuse scandals are far more scary and current - so here goes.

A year after the death of the creepy Jimmy Savile, a TV "personality",  victims who had suffered sexual abuse started telling their stories.  So far they think that he abused in excess of 300 children over a 40 year period and its quite likely that this is merely the tip of the iceberg.

How did he get away with it?  He even had keys to flats at several hospitals where he carried out his sick fantasies. Why was it only after his death that victims to took courage to come forward and tell their tragic stories?   Did he have "friends" in high places of a similar persuasion who protected him?  If so, they should be shamed and exposed to, but here we go again - are  they are so powerful that this will never happen? 

I believe that the BBC has now been skillfully bought into disrepute by reporting the story of a man who claimed that in his youth he was sexually abused by a senior MP whilst in a care home in Wales.  This former MP has vehement denied this but the result has been that BBC Newsnight was taken off air and the Governor General resigned.   A powerful warning to anyone daring to investigate these or any other claims. 

Friday, 9 November 2012

HELP - I'M GOING NUTS HERE!

I have been trying to leave comments on some of my favourite blogs and have either encountered word verificators (is that a made up word?)  convinced that I'm am, indeed, a robot or, alternatively, I appear to be out of the "circle of friends".  What's going on?  Did the world go mad in my few weeks blogging sabatical? Are the Mayan loonies correct in saying that the world going to end on 22nd December?  HELP!

Just in case it is, let's have a laugh.  This was sent to me by a good friend. 

Paraprosdokians (Winston Churchill loved them) are figures of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected; frequently humorous.


1. Where there's a will, I want to be in it.

2. The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on my list.

3. Since light travels faster than sound, some people appear bright until you hear them speak.

4. If I agreed with you, we'd both be wrong.

5. We never really grow up, we only learn how to act in public.

6. War does not determine who is right - only who is left.

7. Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit.. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.

8. To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is research.

9. I didn't say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.

10. In filling out an application, where it says, 'In case of emergency, Notify:' I put 'DOCTOR'.

11. Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the street with a bald head and a beer gut, and still think they are sexy.

12. You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive twice.

13. I used to be indecisive. Now I'm not so sure..

14. To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target.

15. Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.

16. You're never too old to learn something stupid.

17. I'm supposed to respect my elders, but its getting harder and harder for me to find one now.



Wednesday, 7 November 2012

VIEWS FROM AN OUTSIDER

Never one to hold back on my own personal opinions I would like to comment on my feelings towards the Presidential Elections in the USA. But please remember, these are MY OPINIONS. And also please bear in mind that in this Country I have a right to freedom of speech and I’m a crazy old woman.


I would also like to declare that I am a socialist (with a small “s”) and a conservative (with a small “c”). This is not sitting on the fence. One thing that I have never, ever, been accused of is being a sitter on a fence! I have a social conscience and believe that there should be a safety net for the unable, but not for the unwilling.

Unfortunately socialism in government doesn’t seem to work because the nature of the beast is that the more benefits handed out equate to more votes from the vast hoards reliant on them. And that’s pure logic.

So at the risk of pissing off the majority of the blogging community together with my colleagues, family and friends – here goes.

Soon after Obama was elected President four years ago I read his book “Dreams of my Father”. It made for a fascinating read and I have great respect for him as a man. BUT I worried that he appeared to have an apathy toward the British in particular and Europeans in general. “Our special bond” had come to an end and America was in danger of becoming even more insular.

In these times of global economic mayhem this is not good. We need to stand by each other more now than ever before. Instead Obama seems to have tapped into the national belief that there isn’t a world beyond the shores of America. Great patriotism, but mistaken policies. (Again, in my opinion).

As an uneducated novice I believe that globally we are looking at two views of the same vase. One view tells us that to get out of this economic mess we should increase the number of public “servants” (now there’s an oxymoron!) by creating jobs that are not wealth generators and spend more money on public buildings and infrastructure.

The other view tells us that we should encourage wealth generation, reduce spending by slimming down the bloated public sector and reduce both personal and national debt .  You pays your money, and you takes your choice. 

And now for Mitt Romney. From the wealthy, privileged background so reviled by many, he created his own wealth by his own efforts. Admirable. BUT what an idiot. You couldn’t trust the Presidency to a man that engages the mouth before engaging the brain. You would forever be living on a knife edge!

Interesting years ahead.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

MY BLOGGING LIFE HAS COME FULL CIRCLE

I started off my blogging career by reading the excellent  Judith O'Reiley's blog www.wifeinthenorth.com. She hooked me into a fascinating way of life and a great circle of friends.  Judith is the author of two books (Wife in the North and A Year of Doing Good) and was the first blog I "followed".  Now she is "following" me.  Welcome to my humble abode Judith. 

Hopefully my writing "mojo" will return because I have, of late, been very remiss with my postings.  Don't you just hate it when that happens?  How can you describe the guilt you feel?

But why did I stop writing? That's quite difficult to anaylise.  My nearest and dearest seem to think that I lost my general joie de vivre when my daughter and son-in-law took two of my grandchildren to live abroad without leaving a forwarding address. This is not something that I care to elaborate on right now, but suffice to say I miss my grandchildren very much. Family has always been my first priority in life.

I don't necessarily agree with this hypothesis.  I believe that the simple explanation is that I'm just too goddamn lazy and most days can't be arsed to do much. 

So...my life over the last 2 months?  I guess one of the most significant things to happen is that one of my beloved grandsons went off to Sheffield University to study History and French. He seems to have settled in very well and says his course work is not giving him too many sleepless nights, he gets on well with his flatmates and now has a new circle of NBF's to add to his already long list of BF's!  He is a very sociable and amiable boy and I love him dearly. Good luck Ali, you deserve the best.

Continuing on the educational theme, my greatgranddaughter Elise and grandson Taylor have both started Senior School.  This is a huge change for both of them, having moved from from a small village school they are now swimming with sharks!  They are coping OK, but I'm terrified.  Such big changes in their young hormonal lives.  Are they able to deal with these new challenges?  Luckily they both have amazing parents who give them understanding, love and support.  Good luck to you both, you also deserve the best.

Vinnie, another of my beloveds, came over from Austrralia for a few weeks and we manage to get a few hours together.  We even meet up with his elusive brother Frazer at a family get together to celebrate Davy's birthday.  Davy hated going out to eat.  He always said "why drink wine when you can have champagne at home?"  He said that about other (nameless) things too! BUT he did like family celebrations and, apart from home, his favourite place to eat was The George at Stamford. After he died it became something of a ritual to meet up there every year on his birthday. 

My big news is that friends I made on the South Pacific cruise invited me to their Australian beach house for the post-christmas period.  Was I tempted or what?  You bet I was!!!  My mind went into overdrive.  If I'm going all that way it would be a pity not to see Western Australia. Travel up to Darwin via Perth and Ayres Rock arriving back in Sydney by 25th February in time to catch the 61 day cruise back to Southampton via the Panama Canal. 

Wooohhhh! Hold on to your horses Ann.  What about the Oz-Bus reunion at my house in January? What about the house build that seems close to being resolved with the Planning Department? Stop!  I calmed down, arranged to take a rain check until next year and booked myself onto a 12 day cruise to Madeira instead.  A good compomise solution!

Anything else?  Apart putting in an Official Complaint against the wretched Planning Office?  Oh yes, last night I went to see Andy Fairweather Low in concert.  That's a blast from the past!  My two young reluctant companions (who had never heard of him) actually enjoyed themselves.  Maybe it gave them an added dimension into how life used to be, proving that there was life before binge drinking and facebook.  Only kidding girls.


 

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

THAT WAS THE OLYMPICS, THAT WAS

I think that Seb Coe should be offered a top job to sort out our economy now.  What an achievement!  Not only were the Olympics amazing, inspirational and a massive boost to our flagging moral, he managed to handle the budget, organisation, transport network and security without a hitch.  Even when our national psyche is to "talk things down"!

And when G4, the company appointed to handle security, appeared to let him down he didn't flinch, but simply bought in the armed forces to fill the gaps.  (I have a suspicion that this was planned from the beginning, but to admit that would have maybe scared off the punters). 

A word of praise for our legendary armed forces.  Some had just come back from Afghanistan and should have gone on leave, but without a murmer they rallied around, and rose to the task which was above and beyond the call of duty with grace and good humour.  We are so proud of them. 

Even the BBC was finally contaminated with optimism and that must have been his finest hour.  Honestly, I sometimes wonder is the BBC is an agent provocateur.  If there is good news, they will find an "ah but ....."

And let's not forget the glorious Boris Johnson, our mad, wacky, charismatic but hugely intelligent Mayor of London.  I absolutely adore him and remember predicting great things for him way back at the beginning of this century (that sounds a long time ago doesn't it  :-) ?  But, I believe, we ain't seen nothing yet.  Remember, you read it here first!  

 And now, at last, Andy Murray has won a Grand Slam title in New York.  Onward and upward. Rule Britannia!!

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

HALF A PINT OF THE BLACK STUFF

I just had a brilliant weekend in Dublin with my Oz-Bus mates and managed to clock up a few "1st's". 

1 - Had my 1st drink of Guinness.  Reputedly Guinness drunk in Dublin is like Guinness drunk no where else.  Can't comment on that because I've never drunk it before, but I can tell you that it IS wonderful in Dublin! 

2 - Had my 1st experience of a "Comedy Club".  Fantastic. I laughed 'til I nearly fell off my chair.

3 - Went to my 1st Gaelic Football Match.  And not any old match, it was the semi-final between Cork and Donegal.  And not any old venue - it was in Croke Park.  Magic.



4 - Dined at a Marco Pierre White restaurant.  We went their for an "early bird" dinner, so I guess we didn't get the full-on dining experience, but the food was great.

5 - Saw the Tall Ships that had taken part in the Tall Ships Race. 

We also went to an amazing Hooley Show at Johnnie Fox's Pub.  One of the oldest pubs in Ireland and certainly the highest. Our good Oz-Bus friend and host for the weekend, Ciaran, is a friend of the owner, Tony, who showed us around.  It's an amazing venue.  Tony has a veritable smorgasbord of photographs of famous people that have visited, including Bill Clinton (and 6 other Presidents),  Condoleezza Rice,  many Royals and, that very lunchtime, Liam Gallagher of Oasis!

Photo: We were joined by Tony, the owner of Johnnie Foxes, after he gave us a tour of the place, which has been visited by so many famous people over the years including 'Oasis's' Noel Gallagher that day.

And this is quite a rare site - me playing bing!  Tony (of Johnnie Fox's fame) also owns a 2,200 seater boxing/bingo venue. As Jonnie and I got hooked on bingo whilst sailing from China to Alaska last year Ciaran thought it might bring back fond memories! 

Photo: Unfortunately we had no winners in our group but it brought a nice end to an action backed weekend reunion in Dublin.

Ciaran, you did us proud.  How can we top that for a re-union?  Well the answer to that is, of course, it can't be topped.  We have reached the pinnacle.  BUT we still want to meet up because we have forged such a close bond.  So next January it's all up to my place for a little R&R after Christmas. No bells and whisles with this venue, although I may have a few ideas up my sleeve !!!

Thursday, 23 August 2012

THE ANT AND THE GRASSHOPPER

This one is a little different .......  Two different versions ......  There are Different Morals

OLD VERSION:

The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter.

The grasshopper thinks the ant is a fool and laughs and dances and plays the summer away.

Come winter, the ant is warm and well fed. The grasshopper has no food or shelter, so he dies out in the cold.

MORAL OF THE OLD STORY: Be responsible for yourself!

MODERN VERSION:

The ant works hard in the withering heat and the rain all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter.

The grasshopper thinks the ant is a fool and laughs and dances and plays the summer away. Come winter, the shivering grasshopper calls a press conference and demands to know why the ant should be allowed to be warm and well fed while he is cold and starving.

Channel 7,9, & 10 News, and A Current Affair show up to provide pictures of the shivering grasshopper next to a video of the ant in his comfortable home with a table filled with food. The country is stunned by the sharp contrast. How can this be, that in a country of such wealth, this poor grasshopper is allowed to suffer so?

Julia Gillard appears on A Current Affair with the grasshopper and everybody cries .  The Green Party stages a demonstration in front of the ant's house where the news stations film the group singing, We shall overcome. Green Party Leader Christine Milne condemns the ant and blames The Liberals, Capitalism and Global warming for the grasshopper's plight. Wayne Swan exclaims in an interview with TV News that the ant has accrued wealth off the back of the grasshopper, and both call for an immediate tax hike on the ant to make him pay his fair share.

Finally to gain votes to win an election , the Government drafts the Economic Equity & Anti- Grasshopper Act retroactive to the beginning of the summer.

The ant is fined for failing to consider how his hard work and preparation has affected the Grasshoppers Mana and, having nothing left to pay his retroactive taxes, his home is confiscated under the Government Land Repo Act and given to the grasshopper.

The story ends as we see the grasshopper and his free-loading friends finishing up the last bits of the ant's food while the government confiscated house he is in, which, as you recall, just happens to be the ant´s old house, crumbles around them because the grasshopper doesn't maintain it.

The ant has disappeared to Vanuatu, never to be seen again. The grasshopper is found dead in a Drugs related incident, and the house, now abandoned, is taken over by a gang of Skinhead spiders who terrorise the once prosperous and peaceful, neighbourhood.

MORAL OF THE STORY: Be careful how you vote !

BUT THE REAL MORAL OF THE STORY IS:  GET A LIFE AUSTRALIA - THESE IDEAS ORIGINATED IN THE UK!  WE HAVE THE MOST POWERFUL, MOST INVENTIVE TOSSERS IN THE WORLD RUNNING OUR COUNTRY INTO THE GROUND!!








Sunday, 12 August 2012

I NEED A GOOD SHAKE

There used to be a TV advert for some sort of "pick-me-up" that went something like "do you feel one degree under?" Well, the answer to that is yes! And that's crazy because I have such a lot of good stuff going on, but I just can't seem to get motivated and have feelings of tremendous lethargy. And the worst thing is that I have so much to be grateful for (and I truly am grateful).

I just came back from a wonderful 2 weeks in Spain with my daughter, granddaughter and their respective families. It was great fun.

And the Olympics have been inspirational. I have loved every minute and relish the fact that there has been a huge up swelling of patriotism (at last). We are such a great nation and it's amazing that for a small island we have achieved so much both now and in the past.

So what's wrong? Is it because I haven't anything to look forward too? I don't believe so. The business (findmeaconference.com and findmeahotelroom.com), is going remarkably well despite the financial challenges that we have had to face. We have gained a reputation for being an honest, straight forward global accommodation and conference booking service making huge savings on behalf of our leisure and account managed clients. Just what is wanted in the current economic climate. And I have just enough involvement in the company to keep me excited without being overwhelmed with "task" stuff!

And my "private" life is just as exciting.  At the end of this month I am off to Dublin for another Oz-Bus reunion with my good friend Jean. We are also planning to visit the Olympic Park and Stadium before it is broken down and I have also made loose plans to meet up with my friend Sandy and a blogging friend for lunch in London sometime soon.

Mid-September my friend Monica is coming over from Switzerland for a couple of days, I plan to visit my friends Sue and Paul in Spain later in the autumn and the new house build is ready to start imminently.

Oh! and another thing. I had a golf lesson yesterday. I spent 30 minutes hitting balls, learning posture and grip. It was great fun and my coach was very complimentary. She said that I had good eye/ball coordination and assured me that it is very unusual for a novice to consistently hit every ball.

I have plenty to keep me occupied and involved so what's going on? As they say in the States - go figure!

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

PUTTING ON THE RITZ

I'm a great flash mob fan anyway, but this has to be the best. Try not to smile as you watch this. Betcha can't do it!  “Putting on the Ritz”...in Moscow, NO LESS!!

What a crazy, delightful ever changing world! Who could have thought that in 2012 young people in Moscow would put on a "flash mob" happening, dancing to an 83 year old American song, written by a Russian born American Jew (Irving Berlin)? Sound ON

Friday, 6 July 2012

TORCHES, PRIZES AND ALL THAT GOOD STUFF


This week has been very "child-centric" and why not? 

The first event was an expedition to see the Olympic torch.  It's just amazing that this torch has travelled the country since 19th May visiting practically every community on its way to its final desination, London, for the start of the Olympic Games on 27th July. 

Even though we live in a very small rural community in Lincolnshire it came within 10 miles north of us last week and 6 miles south of us on Wednesday, day 47 of it's journey.  It then wended it's way into Norfolk, passing through the Queen's estate at Sandringham where this photograph was taken. 
 The Flame visits Sandringham Estate

Our next outing was to the school prize giving.  This was a particularly emotional outing because it was my grandson and my great grandaughter's last term before going on to senior school.  Where have all those years gone to?

I'm afraid that my photography skills have not improved over the years and, horror of horror, my battery went before my great granddaughter and another grandson were given their prizes.  Unforgivable!  What an abject failure of a grandmother I am!

They all go to a wonderful little prep school nearby where the teaching is holistic.  Not only are they being nurtured and taught to the highest standards, they are also learning how to behave and present themselves.  Mind you, I think that they forget all about this once they leave the school premises :-)

3 year old Noah at the first of many school gatherings

Orianne ( centre front!) performing and singing a swimming song!

Taylor being presented with a prize

And finally, and with profuse apologies to all the wonderful men that I know (that sounds bad doesn't it?)
 -
10 PIECES OF ADVICE TO BE PASSED ON TO YOUR MOTHER, DAUGHTERS, GRANDDAUGHTERS, NIECES, AUNTS, GIRLFRIENDS, ETC.

1. Don't imagine you can change a man - unless he's in diapers.
2. What do you do if your boyfriend walks out? You shut the door.
3. If they put a man on the moon - they should be able to put them all up there.
4. Go for the younger man. You might as well, they never mature anyway.
5. Men are all the same - they just have different faces, so we can tell them apart.
6. Best way to get a man to do something is to suggest he is too old for it.
7. Love is blind, but marriage is a real eye-opener.
8. The children of Israel wandered around the desert for 40 years. Even in Biblical times, men wouldn't ask for directions.
9. If he asks what sort of books you're interested in, tell him cheque books.
10.. Remember a sense of humour does not mean that you tell him jokes, it means that you laugh at his.




Friday, 29 June 2012

THE BIBLE THROUGH THE EYES OF A CHILD

A friend sent me this.  I doubt very much that it was written by a child, as claimed, but nevertheless it made me laugh. Enjoy.

"A child was asked to write a book report on the entire Bible and this is what he wrote.

In the beginning, which occurred near the start, there was nothing but God, darkness, and some gas. The Bible says, 'The Lord thy God is one, but I think He must be a lot older than that.  Anyway, God said, 'Give me a light!' and someone did. Then God made the world. He split the Adam and made Eve. Adam and Eve were naked, but they weren't embarrassed because mirrors hadn't been invented yet  Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating one bad apple, so they were driven from the Garden of Eden.....Not sure what they were driven in though, because they didn't have cars. Adam and Eve had a son, Cain, who hated his brother as long as he was Abel.

Pretty soon all of the early people died off, except for Methuselah, who lived to be like a million or something. One of the next important people was Noah, who was a good guy, but one of his kids was kind of a Ham. Noah built a large boat and put his family and some animals on it. He asked some other people to join him, but they said they would have to take a rain check.

After Noah came Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Jacob was more famous than his brother, Esau, because Esau sold Jacob his birthmark in exchange for some pot roast. Jacob had a son named Joseph who wore a really loud sports coat.

Another important Bible guy is Moses, whose real name was Charlton Heston. Moses led the Israel Lights out of Egypt and away from the evil Pharaoh after God sent ten plagues on Pharaoh's people. These plagues included frogs, mice, lice, bowels, and no cable.

God fed the Israel Lights every day with manicotti. Then he gave them His Top Ten Commandments. These include: don't lie, cheat, smoke, dance, or covet your neighbour’s stuff. Oh, yeah, I just thought of one more: Humour thy father and thy mother.

One of Moses' best helpers was Joshua who was the first Bible guy to use spies. Joshua fought the battle of Geritol and the fence fell over on the town. After Joshua came David.. He got to be king by killing a giant with a slingshot. He had a son named Solomon who had about 300 wives and 500 porcupines. My teacher says he was wise, but that doesn't sound very wise to me.

After Solomon there were a bunch of major league prophets. One of these was Jonah, who was swallowed by a big whale and then barfed up on the shore. There were also some minor league prophets, but I guess we don't have to worry about them.

After the Old Testament came the New Testament. Jesus is the star of The New. He was born in Bethlehem in a barn. (I wish I had been born in a barn too, because my mom is always saying to me, 'Close the door! Were you born in a barn?' It would be nice to say, 'As a matter of fact, I was.') During His life, Jesus had many arguments with sinners like the Pharisees and the Democrats.

Jesus also had twelve opossums. The worst one was Judas Asparagus. Judas was so evil that they named a terrible vegetable after him.

Jesus was a great man. He healed many leopards and even preached to some Germans on the Mount. But the Democrats and all those guys put Jesus on trial before Pontius the Pilot. Pilot didn't stick up for Jesus. He just washed his hands instead. Anyways, Jesus died for our sins, then came back to life again. He went up to Heaven but will be back at the end of the Aluminium. His return is foretold in the book of Revolution."

Sunday, 24 June 2012

LOVE IS ALL AROUND

This is one of my all time favourite songs and Marty Pellow from Wet, Wet, Wet is one of my all time favourite singers.  Amazing.  But until this week I didn't know what the inspiration was behind the writing of the song. This is the story.



Reg Presley from The Troggs (and, I might add, someone that I met at a friends house years ago) had been touring.  He arrived home on a Sunday morning as his wife was cooking traditional Sunday roast with his little daughter running around at her feet.  Unless you have ever experience this bliss you wouldn't understand how "homely" this is. I have eaten "Sunday roast" in restaurants and in many countries but it can't be replicated. It's the family and the smells that create the ambiance.  He felt so happy to be home in the bosom of his happy family that he was inspired to write this song.   

Unfortunately for The Troggs the record wasn't the enormous hit that it was for Wet, Wet, Wet who gave it that special treatment that totally unique to them.  Much like a Sunday roast!   

Today I have 12 to lunch (including my daughter (my son-in-law is doing a triathlon or something!), my granddaughter, her husband, another 3 grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren, hopefully the weather will be dry so that the young ones can go out into the garden and give us some peace!)

I am cooking roast chicken with sage & onion stuffing, crispy, crispy, crispy roast potatoes (no-one cooks them like me, even though I say so myself), kale, cauliflower and broccoli.  I always do Yorkshire pudding too.  I know that Yorkshire Pud traditionally goes with roast beef but we think that it goes with roast anything!  For "afters" we are having my special (secret recipe) rice pudding , raspberry crumble, strawberries and New York cheese cake.  A real "lardy bloater" "bring my blanket so that I can have a nap" feast! 

Afterwards I may even subject my family to a rendition of "Love is all around"!

Monday, 18 June 2012

A BLOND GOES TO HEAVEN



This made me laugh.

A blonde was sent on her way to Heaven. Upon arrival, a concerned St Peter met her at the Pearly Gates. 'I'm sorry, 'St Peter said; 'But Heaven is suffering from an overload of godly souls and we have been forced to put up an Entrance Exam for new arrivals to ease the burden of Heavenly Arrivals.'

'That's cool' said the blonde, 'What does the Entrance Exam consist of?'  'Just three questions' said St Peter,
'Which are?' asked the blonde. 'The first,' said St Peter, 'is, which two days of the week start with the letter 'T'? The second is how many seconds are there in a year? The third is what was the name of the swagman in Waltzing Matilda?' 'Now,' said St Peter, 'Go away and think about those questions and when I call upon you, I shall expect you to have those answers for me.'

So the blonde went away and gave those three questions some considerable thought (I expect you to do the same).

The following morning, St Peter called upon the blonde and asked if she had considered the questions, to which she replied, 'I have.' 'Well then,' said St Peter, 'Which two days of the week start with the letter T?'
The blonde said, 'Today and Tomorrow.'

St Peter pondered this answer for some time, and decided that indeed the answer can be applied to the question. 'Well then, could I have your answer to the second of the three questions' St Peter went on, 'how many seconds in a year?' The blonde replied, 'Twelve!' 'Only twelve' exclaimed St Peter, 'How did you arrive at that figure?' 'Easy,' said the blonde, 'there's the second of January, the second of February, right through to the second of December, giving a total of twelve seconds.'

St Peter looked at the blonde and said, 'I need some time to consider your answer before I can give you a decision.' And he walked away shaking his head.

A short time later, St Peter returned to the blonde. 'I'll allow the answer to stand, but you need to get the third and final question absolutely correct to be allowed into Heaven. Now, can you tell me the answer to the name of the swagman in Waltzing Matilda?' The blonde replied: 'Of the three questions, I found this the easiest to answer.' 'Really!' exclaimed St Peter, 'And what is the answer?' 'It's Andy.' 'Andy??' 'Yes, Andy,' said the blonde.

This totally floored St Peter, and he paced this way and that, deliberating the answer. Finally, he could not stand the suspense any longer, and turning to the blonde, asked 'How in God's name did you arrive at THAT answer?' 'Easy' said the blonde, 'Andy sat, Andy watched, Andy waited til his billy boiled.'

And the blonde entered Heaven...?



... you're singing it now, aren't you???























Friday, 15 June 2012

THIS IS MYLIFE!

MY GARDEN IN FULL SUMMER BLOOM
The first sight that greeted me when I arrived home from my 4 month trip to Australia, the Polynesian Islands and American was the glorious sight of my front garden in full bloom. 

There is nothing quite like England in early summer. 

The next sight was this "welcome home" banner in my office made by 2 of my grandsons Harvey and Taylor and my 2  great granddaughters Elise and Orianne under the tutelage of my daughter Kimberley.  What a great homecoming.

Then on Tuesday I was treated to a formal"English Tea Party" with bone china cups and saucers and scones provided by Stuart in IT, dainty sandwiches provided by  Georgina and made by Jackie in accounts and Rosie in reservations and cupcakes made by Kimberley.  A grand co-operative event.  



THE SUNDIAL SUMMER OF LOVE BUS


 
And yesterday we had a visit from the Sundial Group who bought their "Summer of Love" London bus to present to us and treat us to a delicious BBQ lunch.  They did the same last year but I missed it because I didn't get back from my trip until July.
 


SOME OF THE INFOTELLIAN
CREW OUTSIDE OUR OFFICE


And while we had some of the crew off the 'phones (which doesn't happen very often) we took a pic at our  office entrance.




I live and work in a beautiful rural environment, although this does present problems in inasmuch as  we have many illegal immigrants and druggies in the area and despite beefing up security since Davy died they still seem to see the office and my house as a target for petty pilfering.  Only yesterday one of the sales people saw a "thin lad" disappearing around the back of the office when she arrived at 8.00 am.  She thought it might have been one of the grandchildren.  It wasn't. 

Those who follow this blog will have gathered by now that I have been on a 4 months trip to Australia, the Polynesian Island and America which I documented in my travel blog.  If you haven't read it you can access it by clicking on the funny lady on the right sidebar of this blog. 

I arrived back at Heathrow at noon this Monday.  I had been able to sleep on the plane thanks to being upgraded from World Traveller + to Club Class where the seats go horizontal and make into beds.  After taking couple of travel sick pills to make me drowsy I settled down into a shallow sleep.

My first stop was the office, where I saw the banner.  After a quick update on things I went to pick up my great grandson from nursery.  He wasn't expecting me and just looked at me in amazement.  I said "don't you remember me Leyton".  His face lit up and he yelled "Nanny!" and lept into my arms.  Amazing because when I left he was calling me "Ninny"! 


I dropped him off at his house and stayed to visit with his brother and 2 sisters.  My granddaughter invited me to eat with them but I had had a fancy for an egg butty with HP sauce so I dragged my sorry ass back home to unpack and have a my guilty treat. 


On Tuesday I had a meeting.  My grandson Ali arrived to visit during the meeting and sat in with us until it was broken up by the surprise English Tea Party event.  Very eccentric, but what could have been more appropriate?  That evening I was treated to a meal cooked by the king of pasta himself, my adorable grandson-in-law, Dan, .


On Wednesday I went to the hairdressers, went food shopping and bought back doughnuts for the office only to find that one of the hotel groups had already dropped off doughnuts and goodies for us.  In the afternoon I completely zoned out and watched 6 back to back episodes of  Homeland, interspersed with power naps.  Then Elise & Orianne came to stay the night. 

Yesterday was the "Summer of Love" visit from the Sundial Group.  Again, very appropriate because I had just heard Rod Stewart on the radio singing the Cat Stevens song "The First Cut is the Deepest" followed by "If you're going to San Francisco" by Scott Mackenzie.  Both "Summer of Love" anthems from the year that I first met that crazy man called Davy. 

Tim, the MD of Sundial, was very complimentary and said that of all the places they go they all agreed that they enjoyed visiting us best because everyone's so friendly. And the weather behaved too.  We had one glorious day of sunshine after several days of atrocious days.

While all this was going on two of the sales people were trying to persuade me to write my life story.  I would love to darlings, but when would I have time? 

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

A LIFE WELL LIVED

A palliative nurse who has counselled the dying in their last days has revealed the most common regrets we have at the end of our lives. And among the top, from men in particular, is 'I wish I hadn't worked so hard'.

Bronnie Ware is an Australian nurse who spent several years working in palliative care, caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives. She recorded their dying epiphanies in a blog called Inspiration and Chai, which gathered so much attention that she put her observations into a book called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.

She writes of the phenomenal clarity of vision that people gain at the end of their lives, and how we might learn from their wisdom. "When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently," she says, "common themes surfaced again and again."

Here are the top five regrets of the dying, as witnessed by her:

1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

"This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it."

2. I wish I hadn't worked so hard.

"This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children's youth and their partner's companionship. Women also spoke of this regret, but as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence."

3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.

"Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result."

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

"Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying."

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

"This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called 'comfort' of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again."

I CAN HONESTLY SAY THAT DAVY HAD NONE OF THESE REGRETS WHEN HE DIED.  HIS WAS A LIFE WELL LIVED.  WE LOVE YOU AND MISS YOU SO MUCH. THANK YOU FOR LOVING US BACK.



Saturday, 26 May 2012

HOODSPORT, WA, USA

Here I am on the last leg of my journey. This will be my home for the next 2 weeks. My friends call it their "5th wheel" and it sits in their garden at this beautiful location in Hoodsport which is a small community along the Hoodsport Canal. They live high above canal beside a gulf course The nearest big city is Seattle

This is my living/kitchen area. Not that I do any cooking!  Remember to view all my travels starting in Australia on 11th February until now simply click on the strange lady in the cork hat on the right hand sidebar.  More pictures there! Home on 10th June! 




Saturday, 5 May 2012

LIFE ABOARD THE DIAMOND PRINCESS

DON'T FORGET, TO READ THE FULL ACCOUNT OF MY TRAVELS WITH PHOTOGRAPHS YOU CLICK ON THE LADY WEARING THE FUNNY HAT ON THE SIDEBAR XXX

This is a typical day on board.  Some mornings I start the day with hot tub, sauna and then breakfast.  This morning I skipped the hot tub and sauna to check emails.  After breakfast I went to a lecture entitled “Paradise Undiscovered – Hawaii before Cook”.  Very good.  The lecturer, Paul Escenfelder, reinforced what we had already been hearing from our tour guides.  The Hawaiian islanders were also  self sufficient inasmuch as they had plentiful supplies of food from the sea, wild fruits and vegetables and the Coconut tree to providing shelter, transport (canoes), clothing and food.

 Food was cooked in fire pits by the men.  The men and women had separate fire pits because it was forbidden to cook or eat food together. The men were permitted go into the women’s huts, but the women could not go into the men’s.  Consequently the men fished, gathered and cooked all the food and took it to the women.  This sounds like a very good lifestyle to me!
After this I went deck walking for 20 minutes, then played Trivia and then walked the deck for another 20 minutes stopping along the way for chats with various people that I’ve got to know. 
Lunchtime!  Then the “Crossing of the Equator Ceremony”.  This was so funny.  It takes the form of a trial.  One of “the accused” was tried for causing “washing machine rage” having being seen using the machines simultaneously on desks 5, 8, 9,10 and 11.  Another was tried for eating all day and causing havoc with the chef’s budget etc. etc.  Naturally, they were all found guilty and, to appease King Neptune, had to be severely punished. The pictures tell the story.  But check out King Neptune’s body!  He takes the zumba classes and a group of us sit and drool over him.  I told him he had a great body and he laughed and said “yes, Adam told me you had been saying that!”  It’s  great being 71, you can get away with almost anything!
Then on to a lecture called “The Singers Singer” about Matt Monro who was a very popular singer in the ‘60’s.  The talk was given by his daughter Michele.
This was followed by dinner with Anne, Pat & Ed, then on to the Darren Williams show.  Now there IS eye candy!  He is an Aussie living in New York and is a brilliant singer, entertainer and musician.  By far the best act we have seen so far. Then supper in the Horizon Buffet and bed. Whew. 
I would also like to have done afternoon tea and I missed another couple of trivia sessions because I simply ran out of time. 
If I were inclined to I could also have gone to a juggling work shop, the gym, listened to music at various venues throughout the day, visited the library, shopped, swum, had cocktails and music with “Derringer” (who every they are), gone to a Musical Concert starring the Josef  Mezel Trio, gone ballroom dancing, watched 3 movies, listened to Rose Winters in Crooners Lounge in the evening or watched her rehearse the choir in the morning, played poker, blackjack, or the one armed bandits (called “pokies” in Australia),  gone disco dancing, played bingo, watched the Mr Sexy Legs competition, gone to the Crafters and Knitters Get-Together, joined a group of “stock watchers”  or a group studying comparative religion and spirituality, or gone to the “Engineers get together”, the “Gardeners get together”, the “Arts & crafts workshop” to study calligraphy, dance classes or a seminar on how to increase your metabolism, played backgammon, whist, canasta, pinochie, poker, bridge, paddle tennis, water volleyball, watched TV all day and let’s not forget the Spa for full body treatment or the hairdressers for a hair do!  And, if I had the need, I could have gone to a Jewish Sabbath Eve Service, an AA meeting or a meeting of the gay and lesbian community! And then there is the singles and solo traveller’s dinner, the Princess Pot Star qualifying heats etc. etc.  Phew!!!! 

Saturday, 28 April 2012

THE GREAT AUSSI FLOODS

SAD KANGAROO
Take a look at the travel blog ( click on the strange lady in the cork  hat on the side bar) to read how my grandson have managed to stay 1 day ahead of disaster in the floods.

FIJI & AMERICAN SAMOA



When we docked at Fiji we were advised to leave our jewellery in the safe and given lots of does and don’t.  Like “if you take a taxi make sure that he waits for you and that you don’t pay him until he returns you to the ship”.  Unsurprising really as the island inhabitants are only 200 years away from being cannibals!
Indians were brought in to work the sugar plantations because the locals were not interested in physical work.  Now the Indians make up about half of the island’s inhabitants, dominating the commercial and professional fields.  They also produce most of the islands’ crops and in elections gained most of the seats in government. The Fijians eventually rebelled and staged the South Pacific’s first of 3 coup d’etats resulting in Fiji becoming a republic. 
I went to an “arts village” which entailed sitting on an uncomfortable, rickety bus with no air conditioning.  Not good in temperatures in the 30’s and high humidity.  On the 45 minute drive along the horrendously potholed “main highway” we passed the poor ramshackle shacks that the local habitants live in.  It’s obviously very poor subsistence living here. 
At the “arts village” we were treated to a display of their ceremonial war and courtship dances.  The war dances culminated in the enemy being eaten! Quite scary. And then the main billing, the firewalkers who come from members of the Sawau Tribe of Beqa Island.  I thought that they would just skip lightly over the hot stones, but no, they stood on them!  Amazing! 
After leaving Fiji we passed over the international dateline, gained a day and had the 25th April twice.  Now instead of being +13 GMT we are -11 GMT.  Bizarrely enough Western Samoa has decided to remain on +13 GMT. For commercial reasons they prefer to be in line with Australia.  So here you have two adjacent islands with different dates.  Now that really is confusing!
Somerset Maugham’s “Rain” was appropriately set in American Samoa (where we are).  This island has 200 inches of rain a year.  They say that a day never goes by without rain.  It sits on the Pacific Rim of Fire and in 29th September 2009 there was a tsunami killing 200 people.  This ship arrived the day after and passengers donated money and clothing to the local population and the Red Cross used the ship’s showers and facilities.  
American Samoa is culturally completely different to Fiji.  It is a matriarchal society where the men bring up the children and cook the meals and their ceremonial dances are about love not war.  We were taken to a village to take part in the Ava ceremony. Ava is a non-alcoholic drink that makes your mouth go numb and if you drink too much makes you squiffy.  Go figure (as our American friends say). 
Unlike the tourist village in Fiji this was a real living village.  The ladies toilet was actually in the family bathroom where two village ladies were in the bath showering a child (behind a shower curtain I should add).  While I was in there they asked if anyone was there I said “yes, but if you want to come out we will wait” “no, you all finish first, we are fine”.  That child must have been like a prune by the time we had all finished.  We had a great time with the villagers and I actually felt sorry to be leaving. 
Our guide told us that the main island employer is a tuna canning factory.  There used to be two factories but the Samoan government demanded that they pay the minimum US wage. They refused, closed the factory and moved operations to another island resulting in something like 6000 people losing their jobs.  It tore the heart out of the economy.  The government is still demanding that the remaining factory pays this minimum wage and now this factory is under threat of being closed too.  Apart from this the only other employment on the island is the Government.  We really don’t know how lucky we are.  

TO SEE MORE POSTS AND PICTURE OF MY TRIP AROUND THE WORLD SIMPLY CLICK ON THE CRAZY LADY WEARING THE HAT ON THE RIGHT HAND SIDE BAR! 

Saturday, 14 April 2012

GOODBYE AUSTRALIA, HELLO SOUTH PACIFIC

My time in Australia is about to come to an end.  Tomorrow I join the Sea Princess for a 4 week cruise through the Polynesian Islands to San Francisco.  If you would like to follow my progress don't forget you can read all about it by clicking on the strange Aussie lady on the right sidebar.  This will take you to my travel blog.

To my dear blogging friends, please excuse me for not keeping up with you, I have limited wifi time on this trip and I'm anxious to record all the experiences so that I can re-live them at some later time when I'm old and frail..

So ....here's my cruise itinerary:-

SUN 04/15/12         SYDNEY, BARANGAROO WHARF 5   CHECK IN 2:30PM-5:00PM DEPART 6:00PM
MON 04/16/12        AT SEA
TUE 04/17/12          AT SEA 
WED 04/18/12        FIORDLAND NATIONAL PARK, NEW ZEALAND (SCENIC CRUISING)
                               ARRIVE 8:00AM DEPART 6:00PM
THU 04/19/12         DUNEDIN (PORT CHALMERS), NEW ZEALAND
                               ARRIVE 8:00AM DEPART 6:00PM
FRI 04/20/12           AKAROA, NEW ZEALAND
ARRIVE 8:00AM DEPART 6:00PM
SAT 04/21/12          AT SEA

SUN 04/22/12         AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND
ARRIVE 7:00AM DEPART 6:00PM
MON 04/23/12        AT SEA

TUE 04/24/12          AT SEA

WED 04/25/12        AT SEA
WED 04/25/12        SUVA, FIJI
ARRIVE 9:00AM DEPART 5:00PM
WED 04/25/12        CROSS INTERNATIONAL DATELINE

THU 04/26/12         PAGO PAGO, AMERICAN SAMOA
ARRIVE 7:00AM DEPART 4:00PM
FRI 04/27/12           AT SEA

SAT 04/28/12          AT SEA
SUN 04/29/12         BORA BORA, FRENCH POLYNESIA
ARRIVE 8:00AM DEPART 5:00PM
MON 04/30/12        TAHITI (PAPEETE), FRENCH POLYNESIA
ARRIVE 8:00AM OVERNIGHT
TUE 05/01/12          TAHITI (PAPEETE), FRENCH POLYNESIA
DEPART 4:00AM
TUE 05/01/12          MOOREA, FRENCH POLYNESIA
ARRIVE 7:00AM DEPART 4:00PM
WED 05/02/12        AT SEA

THU 05/03/12         AT SEA

FR I05/04/12           AT SEA
SAT 05/05/12          AT SEA

SUN 05/06/12         AT SEA
MON 05/07/12        HONOLULU, HAWAII
ARRIVE 6:00AM DEPART 11:00PM
TUE 05/08/12          MAUI (LAHAINA), HAWAII
ARRIVE 7:00AM DEPART 4:00PM
WED 05/09/12        AT SEA

THU 05/10/12         AT SEA

FRI 05/11/12           AT SEA
   
SAT 05/12/12         AT SEA
SUN 05/13/12         SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA
SFO CRUISE TERMINAL PIER 35
FISHERMAN'S WHARF
THE EMBARCADERO
SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94111
ARRIVE 7:00AM

Saturday, 7 April 2012

PARAPROSDOKIANS

PARAPROSDOKIANS (Winston Churchill loved them) are figures of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected; frequently humorous.

1. Where there's a will, I want to be in it.
2. The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on my list.
3. Since light travels faster than sound, some people appear bright until you hear them speak.
4. If I agreed with you, we'd both be wrong.
5. We never really grow up, we only learn how to act in public.
6. War does not determine who is right - only who is left.
7. Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
8. They begin the evening news with 'Good Evening,' then proceed to tell you why it isn't.
9. To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is research.
10. Buses stop in bus stations. Trains stop in train stations. My desk is a work station.
11. I thought I wanted a career. Turns out I just wanted paychecks.
12. In filling out an application, where it says, 'In case of emergency, notify:' I put 'DOCTOR.'
13. I didn't say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.
14. Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the street with a bald head and a beer gut, and still think they are sexy.
15. Behind every successful man is his woman. Behind the fall of a successful man is usually another woman.
16. A clear conscience is the sign of a fuzzy memory.
17. You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive twice.
18. Money can't buy happiness, but it sure makes misery easier to live with.
19. There 's a fine line between cuddling and holding someone down so they can't get away.
20. I used to be indecisive. Now I'm not so sure.
21. You're never too old to learn something stupid.
22. To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target.
23. Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.
24. Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.
25. Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.
26. Where there's a will, there are relatives.



And don't forget my travel log while I'm in Australia/USA.  You can read it by clicking on the funny woman in the right hand side bar.  xxx