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Friday 9th

What's on my mind.


    On occasions, when nothing of interest has happened to either of us, you'll have noticed I resort to writing about, 'stuff'. Much of this 'stuff' I like to think, is a tad outside the box: this has something to do with either, the way my brain is wired, or a cycling accident when I seven, before the wearing of crash helmets became trendy. Last night as I lay in bed waiting to drift off, I got to thinking about the Chinese.

Now let me ask, d'you know the ratio of men to women in Britain? No? Well I'll tell you....

    (He looked it up. Ed)

    ...close on 50%. Not, I think you'll agree, either hugely interesting or surprising, barely makes it as a 'Fun Fact' to be honest. But what might make it a little more interesting is that this ratio is practically the same right across the globe, with just a few minor variations. In fact, it's safe to say, if you don't mess with the sexual 'comings and goings' of us humans, the law of averages, and nature, dictates that this ratio is the norm. Which is handy for us, as it means there's almost certainly a Jack for every Jill.

    China, however, has a history of meddling with the natural order of such things. Consequently, they now have 32 million more Chinese lads, under the age of 20, than they do girls of the same age. A fact which might not trouble you, but I bet worries the bejeebers out the 32 million lads no end. Just imagine trying to find someone to love. Imagine wanting a family and knowing the odds are stacked against you. Imagine the chances of getting your leg..... (Censored. Ed). Would I want to be a eighteen year old Beijing rickshaw driver? not for all the tea in ............well, China.

    In the mid 50's experts predicted that the UK population would double by the turn of the century. Well in true expert style they got it wrong by a massive mile. 40 million to be exact. Still, easy mistake to make I guess. What they didn't do was take into account the effect of our growing affluence. It's since transpired, the more affluent we became, the fewer children we wanted to share that affluence with. Perhaps harsh, but none the less true. The UK population rose by just 12 million in fifty years. That includes immigration.

    This can not be said for China. The rise in their affluence has barely made a dent in their figures. In 1953 there were 583 million Chinese. Sixty years later that number had tripled to 1.5 billion and that's WITH draconian birth control laws. Each year 18 million babies are born in China. That's 360 million per generation. Almost a quarter of the world's population is now Chinese. Arguably the population has reached critical mass. A point where nothing can stop its growth, even laws which once forbade couples from having more than one child had no effect.

    If you take the present population of China, add in some maths, you'll discover that at some point in the future we'll all be of Chinese decent. Theirs will be the dominant gene in the gene pool. Nature will do the rest. That might sound a bit far fetched, but what you probably don't know is that, according to ONS (Office of National Statistics), the largest group of immigrants coming to the UK in 2014 wasn't from India, the middle east or eastern Europe, but from China. A total of 42,000. And that's not even a spike in the yearly migration numbers.

    China's population has one other very worrying implication for us all. When you get 1,344,130,000, people living on top of each other you create the perfect environment for nature to engineer new viruses in the hope of levelling the playing field. Little wonder the last three outbreaks of avian flu have all been in China.

    About then, thankfully, I drifted off.





Wednesday 7th 2016

It's a gas


        Today I'm going to take you on a journey into the fascinating world of bottled gas: as a consequence this could be the most boring diary entry I've ever attempted to write. But write it I must, why? Because I get emails from people asking me such questions as: What gas bottle should I take on my planned caravanning odyssey? What gas bottles do you use? How long will a ten kilo bottle of butane last me? All fascinating questions I think you'll agree. So to answer them, here's the best practical 713 word article you're likely to read about camping gas. For those would rather stick pins in their eyes than be educated, I've tried to make it interesting. Seriously..... I did try.

    Regardless of the many attempts, by those wonderful people in Brussels, at standardising Europe - condoms and bananas spring readily to mind – they've failed miserably with the the gas bottle industry. Each country has its own idea about how to get gas into a cylinder, and then how to get it back out again. No two are the same. The only universal gas bottle on the market is the French manufactured 'camping gaz'. Unfortunately the smallest bottle, about the size of a can of baked beans, will just about heat up a can of baked beans before expiring. And the largest would struggle to keep you warm through one frosty night. They're also French, which means they're stupidly expensive.

    Having wasted hours studying all the pros and cons of all portable gas bottles, I plumped for the BP Gaslite system, for two simple reasons. First, the bottles are made from glass fibre which means they're much lighter than steel bottles.

    (Weight is your enemy! Lighter bottles, equates to more clothes ladies. Ed)

    Secondly, they're semi transparent. This makes working out what gas you have left a doddle, as you can actually see the stuff sloshing around. I marked the level and was able to accurately calculate how long a bottle would last. I reasoned, that both bottles we took would last nine months, and they did. Now I should point out we use electric for heat and to cook with, where possible. Gas was our back up.

Nothing to do with gas, just your average Spainish stag do. And no thats not me out front.

    Now of course bottled gas is universally available throughout Europe. In much of southern Europe small towns and villages don't have piped gas, so they rely on bottled gas. Consequently it's plentiful, easy to get and a lot cheaper than in the UK. In Morocco for example, you'll pay around £5 for a 15 kilo refill. In Spain about £15. The only down side of buying gas over here is, if you're not careful you could end up filling your van with empties which, unless you're a collector, could be a real bind. I recently met a newbie to this life style who carried six! Poor chap. Obviously, if you're staying for long periods in one country, for winter perhaps, it makes sense to buy the local gas bottles. Many people on this camp site do. When you move on you can leave the bottle behind. Regulators are easy to buy and again cheaper than the UK. You can avoid this faffing about and have the Gaslow system installed in your van. This will enable you to to fill up with LPG. Which sounds great, and it would be if LPG was widely avaiable across Europe. It's not. YOu have to look for it, especially in southern Europe.

    You can actually fill a bottle yourself. This is not advised as you could blow yourself, and much of the campsite, up! But apparently it's common practice with the French and Germans in Morocco. You basically transfer the gas from a local bottle, to yours. This is done by hanging the full bottle upside down, a few feet off the ground. You then connect it to your empty one underneath, via a connector, not a regulator, and then open the gas tap. I'm guessing at this point you leg it for safety. If you do try this method, and survive, you'll need to weigh the filled bottle as there has to be room for expansion. Failure to do so means you've basically made yourself a bomb.

    Right that's the last I'm ever going to say about gas. Promise.




Monday 5th

Some people!


    Frankly, some people shouldn't be allowed out of the country. I'm serious. I've said this before. A test should be part of applying for a passport to see if the applicant makes a suitable ambassador for Britain. I say this because how we conduct ourselves abroad reflects on all of us, as a nation. Johnny foreigner will use Brits he meets as a yardstick to measure us British by. This is why Alexandra Boris de Pfeffel Johnson - Boris Johnson to you and me - shouldn't be allowed to leave Britain, let alone be our Secretary for Foreign Affairs. It might be wrong of me to pick on him since he was actually born in the USA, but few know that. But I suppose his birth place does at least explain why he named his kids Apollo, Lettice, Milo and Peaches.

    Anyhoo. I got chatting to an elderly English couple a while back. Initially I found difficulty understanding him. Not because of his northern accent, but because he was stripped to the waist and was sporting a dense mat of thick wiry chest hair which, for some odd reason, I found slightly hypnotic. It was like looking at an antique sofa that had the horse hair filling bursting out of it. It was made more mesmerising because he didn't have a hair on his head: Age can be so cruel. So while I was weighing all this up I did miss some of what he was saying.

    He told me, he was only staying one more day because the water tap was to slow in filling his water barrel. Which it was. Mine too. But it's not like we've appointments to keep. I've plenty of time to fill my water barrel. In fact, my whole day could be scheduled around filling my water barrel. It certainly wouldn't screw around with my daily agenda any.

    “Where are you going? I asked.

    “Out of Spain. That's for sure. Maybe Portugal.

    “Not a fan of Spain then? I enquired.

    “Don't talk to me about Spain.” he answered.

    Which was odd, since he brought it up.

    “Why what’s up with it?”

    “I was stopped by the police for towing a car with an A-Frame”.

    (An A-frame is a device fitted to the front of a car which allows you to tow it. Ed ).

    “I told them, I spelt it out, it's perfectly legal in the UK! But they wouldn't listen, and after all the money we've spent here. You'd think they be more grateful”.

    I wanted to point out that I doubted the old bill had been keeping a tally of his spending habits while he was here, but clearly he thought someone had, and the amount had earned him some kind of exemption from the Spanish judicial system. Of course I didn't. People don't like the obvious being pointed out to them.

    “No sod 'em mate. If'n that's how they gunna tret us, we're done wit Spain”.

    “Last year we was in California. Have yer been?” He continued.

    “California, no never.” I replied.

    “Don't”, the wife chimed in, “Fulla black people. Were there a week before we spoke to a white person”.

    I never know what to say to bigots. What can you say to a stranger who seems happy to share their prejudices with you? I felt sorry for them to be honest. To have lived as long as they had and have learnt bugger all, is sad. They'll take that to their grave. I'm reminded, nobody is born a bigot, that has to be learnt at the school of Intolerance, fear and small mindedness

    Regrettably, however, people are born with the right to a bloody passport.





Friday 2nd December

Oh! for the love of......


    It is me? Or is the world slowly losing the plot, because I'm rapidly coming to the conclusion that the loons tunes are taking control. By that I mean stupidity seems to be becoming acceptable. Almost the norm. And the idiots don't seem embarrassed any more! They used to keep their dappy ideas to themselves, but not now.

    So let me clear this up; the new five pound note is not made from lard, it's not full of calories and it doesn't smell piggy. A tiny amount of tallow is used in the manufacturing process; less than is used in some candles, lots of cosmetics, many soaps and a plethora of other goods we buy and use.

    Even so, this did not stop over 100.000 British people signing an online petition calling for the return of the old low calorie, fat free, fiver. Many of those who signed were vegans or religious people. One enraged health food shop owner, proclaimed “I'll not be accepting the new fiver”. A sound business stratagem if ever I heard one. Personally, If I ran a health food shop I'd welcome a washable fiver, strikes me as more hygienic. One stick thin, slightly emaciated looking vegan girl, screamed on a news forum. “Fat in fiver's! Are they FUCKING KIDDING!” In caps, so she was pissed.

    My advice to any vegan who signed the petition is this. Use the fiver by all means. Spend it willy-nilly, just don't frekin eat it. Okay? And my advice to those with religious concerns is that there's zero chance of a fat molecule leaching out and be absorbed into your skin, so please, don't worry. Now this is really the result of political correctness gone batty, and frankly, that's a shame as it gives legitimate political correctness a bad name.

    Veganism, vegetarianism and other faddist diets is a lifestyle choice made possible by the mountains of food stacked in supermarkets. Sure, perhaps they've struggled with some issue on animals rights and have decided to take a stand not to eat badgers. Fine. Maybe they've rejected their genetic carnivorous heritage in favour of Tofu. No skin off my nose. Or they've convinced themselves that what we eat is a perversion of what we 'should' eat, but regardless of their reasoning they can only pander to their food preferences and tastes because we have so much food. We're privileged. We throw away 7 million tons of the stuff away a year. We don't really think about the three million children around the world who die of malnutrition a year. Or the one hundred million kids in developing countries who are underweight. Or the one in four who don't get a proper diet. I've been to a third world country. I've watched people devour a chicken in seconds, till all that's left is a pile of spotlessly clean bones. It's something to behold. You'd have thought it would have taken some kind of industrial process to reduce a chicken to that. Visiting a third world country where food is scarce, and people don't give a toss about high fibre, low sodium, saturated fat free high protein diets, is an education. You tend to come away feeling enlightened.

    My point really is this, If you're going to sign a petition, for fucks sake make it worthy of your signature. Maybe sign one that condemns the world leaders for managing to find 1.7 trillion dollars to spend on arms each year but leaves feeding the hungry to charities! Or ones that try and set the wrongs of the world, right and not because your sensibilities are offended by a tiny ingredient used in the manufacturing process of a fiver.

    Okay. Pretty sure I've offended quite a few there, so I'll just say this, tough! We're all different. We all feel offended by something at some point. And we can't go through life worrying if something we're about to say is going to offend someone, it's bound to. But just let me say, in defence of the above, if it has offended you, you might want to look up the difference between being rude, which does offend me, and being offensive which doesn't.

    Anyways, have a fat free weekend. Cheers.





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