Sunday, 31 October 2010

Tradition Vs Commercial

In recent years, have you noticed how Halloween is becoming more and more popular? I guess this has something to do with a commercial understanding of how business can benefit in the same way Christmas, Mother's Day and Father's Day etc., rakes it in for the card companies, florists and the like.

Even in Sainsburys this year, the staff were dressed up as witches and ghouls and it's all taken in good fun - by those who appreciate it and some of the staff put some real effort into it. There are others, like my other half who is a Jehovah's Witness who cringe at the very sight of this representation of a Pagan ritual of celebration of the fine line between the fruitful months of the autumn and the onslaught of winter and hardship. But like Christmas, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one.

In many ways, it allows us to question and dig into our traditions. How many times do we hear the fact that Christmas and its meaning is obscure and that we don't ever remember Christ and his story. The fact that we have those conversations is in itself a healthy reminder of what it is all about. The Pagan tradition of Samhain and the Christian festival of All Saints amalgamating and morphing into Halloween and what it means is subject of many articles across the net and in newspapers keeping the reasons why we do things in perspective and in focus. Once we forget, they (the festivals) become devalued and worthless.

So why have you got a pumpkin in the window this year and why do you wish your nearest and dearest a 'Merry Christmas?'

I took my part two Reiki course today and a very enjoyable experience it was too. My tutor Maureen is a Master in Reiki and understands it and practices it constantly doing good using the Universal Life Force Energy to heal people. I've learned a number of symbols today used in the process and done a practical healing session on someone today which went very well. From today I am a partner in a three way partnership between me, Reiki and the person who is to receive the energy.

In order to gain my certificate at the second degree, I now have to use Reiki in a practical way for at least 20 minutes per day for the next 30 days which is convenient considering November has 30 days, and then pass an examination on the symbols and Reiki practice. The picture above is the Reiki symbol of Power, Cho Ku Ray

No shortage of things to do then - 20 minutes a day, some days is a challenge believe it or not. I can't even find the time or energy occasionally to meditate as often as I would wish which continues to be so important to me.

Today's story sticks with the health theme.

A man has a doctor's appointment.
Doctor to patient, "I'm afraid I've got some bad news, you're dying."
Patient to doctor, "Oh no, how long have I got?"
Doctor to patient, "Ten."
Patient to doctor, "Ten? Ten what? Ten years, Ten months? Ten weeks?"
Doctor to patient, "Ten, nine, eight..."

Chat soon


Friday, 29 October 2010

News, Views and how to be English

The days seem to passing quite quickly at the moment, I guess because work is busy and nights are drawing in. I'm looking forward to the weekend because the weather looks set fair (not wet anyway) for Saturday so it will be leaves clearing up in the garden and putting out a hanging basket of winter pansies for a bit of colour.

Sunday is a Reiki part two course to follow up on my part one qualification in the spring.

There have been some interesting news stories this week not least of which Prime Minister Putin of Russia with a black eye! Speculation is rife about how this black belt judo expert got this shiner and his office blames "A busy schedule and poor lighting!" That is so lame. Hilarious!

In California, voters are expected shortly to legalise and tax marijuana (proposition 19) and this is the state that outlawed gay marriage in 2008 (proposition 8). Wow is this a mixed up state - that's not a comment on either issue which are clearly subject of much debate but the contrast of not allowing one and potentially allowing the other. Interesting.

Halloween (All Hallows Eve) is on its way this weekend and when we were in San Francisco a fortnight ago, Halloween was much in evidence. Our tour guide did tell us that their 'trick and treat' was a week long 'celebration' whereas ours tends to be just one night. I'm not sure what the UK spends on Halloween, supposedly around £0.28 billion, but the US spends about $1.8 billion on costumes alone which allegedly 59% of the country wears and in total, a staggering £3.7 billion on the festivity. In the UK this year alone, pumpkin sales will reach £4.5 million. Spooky. Amazing!

Belfast film maker George Clarke reckons that having watched his favourite film actor Charlie Chaplin in his 1928 film, The Circus, he has spotted an elderly woman talking on a mobile phone. This is worth watching on YouTube and here's the link and you can make your own mind up. His initial reaction according to the BBC was, he says, "... that's a mobile phone, they weren't around then, my only explanation - and I'm pretty open-minded about the sci-fi element of things - it was kind of like wow that's somebody that's went back in time." I've watched it an think it's an elderly woman with arthritic hands scratching her ear! Eat your heart out Doctor Who! Ridiculous!

Rolling Stone legend Keith Richards life of substantial substance abuse has baffled the medical profession - baffled because they have no idea how he has survived so long. An eminent doctor described the reasons why as "He must have the constitution of an ox!" Don't try this at home. Stunning!

Finally this week, something which tickled me is that demise of the wristwatch with mobile phones taking over as the nations source for the time. 14% of the UK population don't wear a wristwatch - that amounts to about 7.2 million people with the younger age group of 15 - 24 year olds least likely to wear one. Although I take mine off to meditate and do my psychic work and occasionally on holiday when time is not an issue, I would be lost without mine. That's okay until the battery on your phone runs out and you can't find the time to allow you to catch your train on time! Crazy!

Those are the hilarious, interesting, amazing, ridiculous, stunning and crazy stories that have tickled my fancy this week, nothing too serious, but then we need to enjoy the lighter side of life.

Many thanks to BBC News online for the detail on these stories.

Rather than a story, I've done a list, the first for a few weeks and it's about the tell tale signs of being English:

You never leave home without an umbrella;
You have little sense of rhythm;
You care about the rules of cricket;
You understand the rules of cricket;
You think weather is a more topical conversation that the future of mankind;
You don't expect any form of public transport to run on time;
You have a cliche for every situation (when all is said and done!);
You think Matt Munro was better than Sinatra.

Have a great weekend

Chat soon


Sunday, 24 October 2010

Retired and Extremely Dangerous (RED)

Another film review! Most people when they retire are not generally dangerous. Hollywood, however generally finds good reasons why Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren and John Malkovich are dangerous and indeed they are anything but demure retirees.

Retired from what? No spoilers here, but Willis is a retired CIA operative getting bored with his humdrum life. He strikes up a relationship with a woman (Mary-Louise Parker) at the CIA pensions office who sends him his monthly pension cheque. Then, without warning, his life is at risk when he and his home is attacked by a CIA team!

Willis gets together his old team of Mirren, Freeman and Malkovich plus Parker who he befriended from pensions to discover why he and indeed they are being targeted. On the way they meet Brian Cox playing a retired Russian agent, Richard Dreyfus as a gangster who has put the Vice President in office and dear old Ernest Borgnine as a CIA records clerk.

On the opposition side in the CIA is an extraordinary actor with so much promise, the brilliant and moody Karl Urban who gets pangs of conscience in the end.

This is a rip roaring story with a thoughtful Willis underplaying his role well. Malkcovich is delightfully mad as the homicidal side kick and Mirren is at ease in her role as a retired assassin who does a few 'contracts on the side.' Morgan Freeman is great in support playing an 80 year old and throughout the whole film, there are good humourous moments and a sharp witty script.

The story keeps the film moving on nicely and at 12A and very little swearing, all ages including young teens will enjoy this adventure. Although there is lots of bodies all over the place, there is little if any blood or gore or gratuitous violence, the film swans along through the strength of the acting of some of the best actors of our time.

This is a recommended piece of great fun.

Chat soon


Friday, 22 October 2010

It's Scream Time!!!

Well, it's a long time since I've been made to jump out of my skin at the cinema or watching something on TV but tonight was the night. Paranormal Activity 2 hit the silver screen and screams followed believe me - it's the first time I've ever experienced it.

First of all it's fair to say that the cinema was packed to capacity and surprisingly, the average age was around 20 - very young really. This was a '15' certificate affair and just as well. There were some really chatty people throughout the film which annoys me and there was a couple of young giggly women behind us - but the film soon shut them up and at one stage one of them seriously said that she wanted to leave... ha ha ha!

No spoilers here, but the film is about a family in small town America who have their house burgled. The family set up security cameras around their home and the story is then told through the medium of a family hand held video camera which the various characters use from time to time and the security cameras.
This is like watching a home movie and it does take some getting used to, but it's beautifully directed and this becomes rather engaging method of telling a story.

The family start to experience some strange knocks and sounds in the house and they seem to centre around the one year old little boy in the house. Then stranger and odder things start to happen and then the full fury of the film hits you in the last twenty minutes.

I say the full fury, but this is in the best tradition of a psychological thriller/horror. There is no blood or gore, it just works on the mind; clever sound, clever editing of film, great acting which is not in any way hammed up and one or two very special, special effects.

There are some uncomfortable moments for the audience, but then why would you go and see a horror film where the first one in the series of films really worked hard on your senses.

There is a going-back really to the 1963 black and white UK classic
The Haunting with Claire Bloom and Richard Johnson that relied purely on sound and low camera angles in an old creepy house.

Recommended but not for the faint of heart or the squeamish.

Sleep well...

Chat Soon


Thursday, 21 October 2010

Cuts Cuts Cuts

Well I couldn't believe it yesterday (Wednesday) when I turned the car engine on at 7.30 am and turned on the windscreen wipers to remove the dew to find a' shushing' noise as rubber glided noisily across ice! 2 degrees Celsius plus and we've got a frost. The wind has been bitter and chill and the central heating has been very useful.

However, with the Government Comprehensive Spending Review 2010 (CSR) being announced yesterday too, it was a frosty day all round (good link eh?) If you don't know what that is and you live in the UK, then you must have been ill in bed for the last couple of months as the Government have been building up to telling us what they are going to spend in the public sector for the next four years (CSR).

In my line of work, cuts will be between 16% and 20% give or take a couple of percentage points equating to many, many millions of pounds. As most of the money coming in goes on wages, it doesn't take a brain surgeon to work out where the cuts will have to be made.

Now this is hugely complex and I don't profess to understand all of it, suffice to say, in order to pay back debts that the Government has racked up in recent years not least of which the reason partly was the fault of the unregulated bizarre behaviour of the banks (private sector), we, the tax payer and more importantly we public sector workers will have to pay, many of us with our jobs through massive and unprecedented cuts. Although relatively low, the chances are, as business support worker, I may well be one of those out of the door within the next four years and I'll turn the light out on my way out!

Personally, I haven't done anything wrong here. At all. I work hard to help my colleagues serve the public and it's a pretty good service, the best it's been for years (not perfect - what is - but not bad at all.)

The public expect a good service and they pay for the privilege. I am a member of the public and I too pay through my taxes and I expect a good service too. The Government have seen problems in society in the past and they have thrown money at it - and by and large problems have been solved with money, people and expertise and performance of the various public sectors has improved. That's because the public, from all political backgrounds, age, gender and locations have demanded it.

Now, a large majority of those people who have demanded those good services have voted in a Government who was committed in their manifesto and through their election pledges to slash and burn them.

What will happen now is that to make ends meet, the Governments own figures suggest that 490,000 public sector workers will lose their jobs.

Those people will not have jobs, will not be productive, will not pay taxes, will not put money into Government coffers and will need benefits perhaps while they attempt to find work. Surprise surprise, despite paying taxes, those made unemployed will probably have their benefits reduced or at worse refused under new Government austerity measures. Families will lose their homes.

Banks continue to make profits, multi billion pound profits - from us, the great unwashed who bailed them out in the first place. The Government intends to tax them paltry sums.

Those in the UK reading this need to understand that despite Government assurances, front line public services - that which you and I directly receive WILL be affected and those services WILL be reduced and suffer loss of performance. Hopefully this will be minimal - but it will be there and here's another surprise, they have removed some of the targets which means the public may not be easily be able to find out how badly cuts in funding is affecting them and how their services are performing!

And yet you will pay not one penny less in your taxes for a reduced service.

What's the solution? I don't know, I'm not clever enough to have one or know what that is, but I do know my family and I in middle class England will suffer along with those poorer families who are in genuine need. I do know that better regulation of the finance industry, sensible regulation of benefits, protection of pension plans from greedy companies and investment houses and none meaningful investment across the public and private sectors would have gone some way to stopping the rot. Not to have done so has been the fault of successive poor Governments. Slower, more considered pay back of the debt, which I agree must be paid back eventually would have kept more people productive to fight the way back to prosperity.

I am glad benefit cheats will get their just deserts, I'm glad schools and the health service will suffer less than other services (but they will suffer nonetheless believe me), I'm glad those that go to work will earn more than those who for selfish reasons (not genuine) sit at home all day and laugh at the rest of us, but to think that the private sector will get loads of work from this is folly. Public services won't pay the private sector to do some of the jobs - there will be NO MONEY to pay for them - some services will stop altogether. The private sector who supply the public services will suffer greatly as well as contracts dry up or are not renewed - meaningful projects for improvements will stop or be delayed indefinitely.

And today I read that a Councillor down south is calling for his council and his colleagues elsewhere to start a new regime of self regulation and peer inspection and targets to make up for those the Government have taken away in an attempt to stop bureaucracy. Madness.

I'm sorry to have gone on a bit on this subject and it's probably the last time I'll do so, but that's what blogging is all about I guess - put a point of view that's uncensored and heartfelt. You decide and have the freedom to make whatever comment you wish if you haven't fallen alseep by now.

The weekend is a-coming and I hope you enjoy it and perhaps I might go for a walk to clear my head. I'm going to the pictures to watch a couple of films and I'll report back on them here over the weekend.

Chat soon


Sunday, 17 October 2010

"Come, little leaves," said the wind one day


"Come, little leaves," said the wind one day,
"Come o'er the meadows with me and play:
Put on your dresses of red and gold -
For summer is gone and the days grow cold."

The grass has grown quite a lot and the leaves are in full fall. My lad says its been too wet to cut it while we've been away, but looking at the soil, it's more like dew than wet from too much rain. It was cold here last night and about 6 degrees Celsius (43F) around 9 am today, with cold mornings and frosts forecast next week. Brrrrr.

The garden got a quick makeover today with the grass cut high which takes the leaves up at the same time; once December gets here and the grass stops getting cut, the leaf blower will come out of hibernation. My lovely but bedraggled geraniums have been composted today and the tired hanging baskets suffered the same fate. Leaves are falling in the pond so a job for next weekend is to put some netting on.


The trees in general are only just turning really even though there is lots of leaf fall, there is a lot of green still about although I notice the chestnut trees are bare already. The many and varied bird varieties have yet to return to the garden in flocks as they normally do in a winter, there's clearly lots of nuts, seeds and berries in the wild for them still. The squirrels however have seen our bird tables as a free meal already.

My patio Acer tree is starting to turn...

Back to work tomorrow which I am not looking forward to, although I do look forward to seeing the people again. My other half has a few more days off yet and the cats are going to the vets tomorrow to be neutered so she'll be nursing for a couple of days I guess.

My computer hard drive is on its way out. A convenient little notice appeared the other day telling me that it need repairing or replacing and it appears every fifteen minutes or so since. The nice technical man told me over the telephone that after a diagnostic check, that indeed a new hard drive is needed and that within five days to a week, this disc will fail. Since that call, strangely, I haven't had any more notices and the computer appears to be working perfectly okay. As it's not costing me anything other than time to put everything back on once it's replaced I don't suppose I can complain.
It's nice of the computer to let me know in advance that is going to pass on!

Here's a short story: A divorce court Judge said to the husband, "Mr Smith, I have reviewed this application very carefully and I've decided to give your wife £800 a month."

"That's very fair your Honour," said the husband. "And I'll try to give her a couple of pounds a week too!"

Have a great week

Chat soon


Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Las Vegas - Bright and Brash

The middle part of 'the Strip', at night looking north, Monday 5th October 2010

Home at last! The hardest part of writing this blog is that it’s out of sequence to the last few blogs in that this is the Las Vegas part (the first four days) of the holiday, the second part of which was in San Francisco. There was no internet connection in Vegas hence why no blog from there, so today, I’m going to do it all in one go – bear with me!

Las Vegas, Nevada is not for the feint hearted nor is it (in my opinion) somewhere to take impressionable young children. Don’t get me wrong, there are some things for them to do, but the basis of the holiday scene is gambling. The attractions that kids would love, and there are several, can be accessed through casinos. Kids can’t gamble until they’re 21, but they are not excluded from the casinos with mum and dad.

Go for a ride with a Gondolier in the Venetian (the sky by the way is painted on the ceiling - spectacular), Thursday 7th October 2010

Vegas is bright, brash, commercial, over the top in places, opulent, hot and busy, occasionally jaded, and let me say this for any would-be Vegas holiday makers, make sure you are fit enough to get around the various hotel complexes. Even if you could afford cabs or cheaper public buses, the hotels which have the attractions and exhibits and interests in them are absolutely huge. There is a useful if somewhat limited monorail experience for a $12 a day roving ticket which takes you up and down the back of the hotels on the strip, but you have to walk from it a fair old distance to get anywhere.

The Luxor (left) shaped like a pyramid and the rear entrance over which guards the huge Sphinx, Thursday 7 October 2010

We stayed at the Luxor hotel at the south end of the strip which was okay. The rooms are on the side of this huge pyramid and the lifts go up at a peculiar angle along the side of the hotel. We were self catering and so the holiday was quite expensive, so we tended to snack during the day. I was good and only played the slots once with a hundred dollars which provided me with three hours entertainment and nothing to show for it at the end!

The best day was a coach trip to the Grand Canyon in neighbouring Arizona, the West Rim, owned by the Hualapai Native American Indian tribe and they own and run the famous Skywalk where you can see into the depths of the Canyon through a clear floor. We didn’t go on it, a) because I am not good with heights (well not a ‘thousand foot sheer drop into oblivion’ heights anyway) b) they charged for the privilege and c) you can’t take photographs – you pay them handsomely to take a photograph for you. The Skywalk is safe apparently, it can carry the weight of a fully laden Boeing 747!

The Grand Canyon from Eagle Point, and the muddy Colorado River, not the blue green river of the movies! Wednesday 6 October 2010

The Canyon itself is indeed spectacular in its sheer size and raw beauty with the muddy brown Colorado River running along the canyon floor. This is worth the trip even though it’s a long day (starting at 6.30 am and finishing about 8 pm), you pass through some spectacular countryside to the west of Vegas via the Hoover Dam, and quaint retirement spreads on isolated plains, through the Joshua Tree Forest and rough dirt roads. When we got there, there were three vantage points to see the Canyon from, all via a shuttle bus which was very efficient, Eagle Point, Guano Point and The Ranch.

I kept a diary of the holiday to help me write the blog and to jog the memory and we did see a great show at the Sahara Hotel – the Rat Pack experience which was good quality entertainment by four talented guys taking off Sinatra, Martin, Davis Jnr., and Bishop backed by a small ‘big band.’ Other than spilling a glass of diet coke on my trousers, it was a good night. Lots of other shows are available including some famous names.

Another highlight was the graceful and moving Bellagio fountain display. An extraordinary five minutes of sheer indulgence.

The Bellagio Fountain, costing $30,000 per show using recycled water because of the water shortages, Thursday 7th October 2010

Positives: scenery, warmth, things to do and see; Negatives: need to be fit, self catering can be expensive for reasonably healthy meals, time share touts at every hotel and street vendors at strategic points on the Strip giving away adverts for ‘working girls.’

An advert on the top of a cab; you can try out a fully automatic weapon at a range before you buy! - Only in America! October 2010

It was a good experience, I’m glad I went, but once in a lifetime is enough. Viva Las Vegas!

Chat soon


Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Pull the Cable

A SFPD patrol car parked on the Wharf, Sunday night, 10 October 2010

Breakfast at Joanie’s consisted this morning of eggs ‘over medium’ (fried both sides) and two rashers of bacon. On the other side of the same plate was French toast which was sweet topped with a knob of ice cream. That diet starts again when we get home!

This morning we went for a Bay boat tour under the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge. The water was calm and we saw a couple of small dolphins or perhaps they were porpoises? The views around the Bay were spectacular to say the least with new views of Alcatraz too. A commentary was available through a personal receiver each passenger got, a bit like the Alcatraz cells tour. This time the bridge was clear and spectacular although not as big as our Humber Bridge, nonetheless, a great sight!

A view of the Golden Gate Bridge from the Bay Tour Boat, about 11.15 am, Monday 11 October 2010

After a walk through the various Piers toward the Hyde Street Cable car terminus and a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, we went on a Powell and Hyde cable car to the city centre terminus where we had a coffee among the contrasts of huge and expensive department stores and the occasional homeless people selling the UK equivalent of the Big Issue.

We stopped off at the cable car museum on route which was alongside the cable machinery that works today to pull the cable cars up and down the hilly streets of San Francisco.

From our view on the back of a Powell & Hyde cable car, another car passes us going into town, Monday 11 October, 2010.

The weather has been fabulous all the time we have been here with not a cloud in the sky and the temperatures today have been in their eighties, topping out at a record 88 degrees this afternoon according to the Weather Channel, whilst New yorkers are experiencing a violent electric storm.

Frascati’s restaurant tonight has been booked for 8 pm with another trip on the cable car to get there. Travelling back to the UK on Tuesday afternoon and I will miss this great city, that's for sure.

Chat soon


Monday, 11 October 2010

The (Steep) Streets of San Francisco

San Francisco Fire Department Engine, polished for the public on Pier 39, Sunday 10 October 2010

Today has been a much gentler and more relaxed day but no less exciting and informative. Sunday morning started with a cafe breakfast in Columbus Street, San Francisco, a great tradition of which I fully approve followed by a guided three hour bus tour of the city on a bus. As a matter of interest, there are many red English right hand drive buses here, some with the roofs taken off to provide open top facilities for tourists.

British town and country planners would have a heart attack looking at the houses here, they're all different. They are packed close together (with an inch space between them to act as a firewall) and very few have any gardens at all in some districts, their front door is on the street. Quaint could describe some, down beat could be said of others.

We saw the steep streets of San Francisco where famous films show cars taking off as they speed over the bumps, (Steve McQueen in Bullet is just one) and locations of many other films. The Golden Gate Bridge isn't golden it's actually 'international orange,' but what some of us would call 'rust red.' The trouble is we didn't see it today, it was shrouded in a typical fog that this city sees most days. Indeed from our vantage point at the top of Twin Peaks, overlooking the city, you could see the extent of the fog mixing the cold sea air with the warm air of the land. In some districts, the summer months of June, July and august are under a permanent blanket of grey.
Golden Gate Bridge (honest guv) Sunday 10 October 2010

We had seafood lunch - Dungeness crab, a San Fran speciality on the Wharf next to the sidewalk and witnessed dozens of huge motorcycles arrive of all shapes and sizes, all polished, glinting in the sun, some home made and others adapted to make them unique.

There were celebrations today and roads were closed off because of the marches taking place, but we managed to see the beautiful and extensive San Francisco Golden Gate Park (designed and built by a Scotsman by the way) and some of the new museums and galleries that have been built post 1989 earthquake. The afternoon entertainment on the Wharf continued with tens of thousands of people packing the place out. All the shops were open and there were bands, Fleetweek displays music aplenty and we saw the seals on Pier 39.

Seals making themselves comfy on Pier 39, Sunday 10 October 2010

Our last day tomorrow but nothing planned as yet, other than a nice meal at a restaurant that was recommended on Hyde Street (thanks Emma) - we'll see how it goes.

Chat soon


Sunday, 10 October 2010

Flying the Flag

US Navy Blue Angels in part of their hour long display over San Francisco Bay Saturday 9 October 2010

I guess being in America, it's reinforced a belief I've held for quite some time, and that is, that one thing cannot be denied is their fierce patriotism.

The Stars and Stripes fly proudly from many buildings, and not just public ones. A Blue Angel US Navy fighter jet flew over San Francisco today very low during their birthday celebrations causing ear splitting noise and ordinary Americans stood in the street and c
heered openly and a those with hats waved them and one man shouted at the top of his voice, 'Come back home safe boys!' An ordinary American mind you, a man in a suit.

I don't think us Brits are any less patriotic, perhaps we just don't demonstrate it openly. Nevertheless, there is no holding back the very open displays of their love of their country and their respect for their military and public servants. Proud is a good word to use.

San Francisco from Alcatraz Island Saturday 9 October 2010, forgive the blue haze.

Why the hell do people then criticise those who fly Union Jacks and flags of St George as racists and xenophobes? Americans have a few things to teach us - not least of which is to love who we are as a nation of people.

It's manic here in San Francisco. The weather has been a hot but comfortable 75 degrees and Alcatraz Island was an amazing experience. Manic - in a positive way with so much hustle and bustle. There are thousands of families out with young children in arms to old retired folk and people SMILE! Yes, smile. It's an absolute delight. People shake hands, ask where you are from, when they see me taking a picture of my wife, or her of me, they spontaneously ask if they can take a picture for us with both of us in it.

A rock band on Pier 39 as part of Fleetweek celebrations, Saturday 9 October 2010

The smell of food pervades the air wherever you go, seafood, steaks and a lot of salads too; the word 'healthy' appears on lots of food adverts and flyers - well at least it's a token gesture in some cases. Footpaths are thronging and you can't walk anywhere in a rush.

Crabs (dead) waiting to be cooked at one of many seafood restaurants on Fisherman's Wharf. Saturday 9 October 2010.

Alcatraz is something else. It wasn't quite as big as I imagined it, and in part that's probably due to Hollywood's artistic licence. Nevertheless, it was humbling and no
t a little emotional at times. Conditions must have been dreadful at times with little in the way of rehabilitation. Some of the cells are just 5' by 6' and bad guys who didn't like to conform with the rules sometimes were locked away seven days a week and let out once a week for exercise and shower in the early days. Believe me, there are still spirits from those days walking the landings.

The Recreation Yard at Alcatraz, you could imagine Clint Eastwood as Frank Morris on the steps. Saturday 9 October 2010

The Island is part of the National Park which seems to have done wonders in preserving the fascinating and varied history of 'the Rock.'

Time for a soak in the bath!

Chat soon


Saturday, 9 October 2010

Postcard from San Francisco

Picture of Fisherman's Wharf sign taken at 1700 hrs local time Friday 8 October 2010

After a mad, hectic, exhausting four days in Las Vegas, Nevada, I've arrived in another mad city, San Francisco in California about 2.30 pm local time today (Friday). We were greeted with a Blue Angels US Navy aero display (the equivalent I think of the RAF Red Arrows) over the Bay area. It's Fleetweek (US Navy) here, they are celebrating their birthday and the town is absolutely FULL of people just full of life and fun and we've hit the jackpot with events and displays put on by the US Navy.

The four days in Las Vegas were great and I'll report more on that when I get back, suffice to say that you have to be bloody fit walking all over the Strip; I've already taken 270 pictures and some video of the fountain display at the Bellagio, which again I'll post when I'm back home.

We've just got our tickets for Alcatraz which is tomorrow (Saturday), followed by a city sightseeing tour - so another busy day. We've literally used our hotel rooms just to sleep in, we've hardly caught our breath.

Like the postcard should always say, "weather nice, digs good, wish you were here."

Chat soon


Saturday, 2 October 2010

Balmy or Barmy?

I guess it's the inconsistencies in our weather which cheese us off so much: Thursday was glorious sun in the mid sixties, Friday was chucking it down with rain (technical term) cold and miserable and today, Saturday, is warm, balmy and calm.

I took some photographs to try to capture this in the rose in my mother's garden covered in dew, steam rising from the dew on some conifers in the garden while the early morning sun is beating down and the rose hip just about sums it up really.

This may be my last blog for a while, I'm going on my hols to America to Las Vegas and San Francisco. I will try to take some pictures and post them via my notebook if the hotels have connections and I'll try not to post pics that are too touristy type which we've seen lots of times before.

I didn't win the EuroMillions last night either (mind you, neither did anyone else) but I got a nice e-mail from the man at Camelot saying I'd won £7.50, which, for my £40 investment sounds as if they're run by bankers! Can't complain though, the odds of winning are mind blowing. Will I be buying some more? Yes - the rollover jackpot is £112 Million. What would you do with £112M? I can't even begin to think.

I'm leaving the house in the charge of my two sons one of whom has taken the week off work, so the house will be aired and used which is comforting and the cats will have some company during the day. The lists are nearly done - usual things, 'keep house tidy', 'green bin out on such and such a date' etc etc.

We're hoping to discover some of the excellent seafood restaurants that San Fran is famous for and as I haven't finished with a story for a while, here's today's offering with a food theme:

The diner had been waiting a long while for his meal, so long in fact that he was on the point of walking out. The waiter hurried across to his table and said, "I must apologise for the delay sir, but your fish will be coming in just a minute."
The diner replied coldly, "What bait are you using?"

Chat soon