This week in bigger pics

  Tuesday 4th February 2013 week 137 Spain.


    Sorry I wasn't able to post yesterday. The day really didn't start well.

    I woke and looked out of the window. Grey rain laden clouds skittered across the sky. A chill wind blew. My plan to ride into San Fernando to buy a couple of ink cartridges might have to be shelved I thought. I snuggled down.

    As I lay there I managed to annoy myself. I wondered why it was I can buy eight, yes I said eight, non Epsom ink cartridges, from ebay, for a mere £4.67, including postage and packaging and yet eight genuine Epsom cartridges would set me back a staggering £80! The mark up is scandalous. That’s simple corporate profiteering. It's akin to being mugged. Unfortunately I don't have an option, I'll have to pay their extortionate prices, 25 Euros for the two I need. I so hope the CEO of Epsom is reading this, my message to you sir is: Fuck Epsom!

It's then that I decided to get up, that or lay there and fester. I'll make a nice cup of tea. Start the day right, a better way to start the day has yet to be invented. Americans, so I'm led to believe, start their day with a cup of coffee which goes a long way to explain why, by mid morning on any given day, forty five of them are shot by other Americans. Its a fact. I've not made that statistic up. I feel sure if they started the day with a nice pot of tea they wouldn't be so full of angst.

At long last a bit of Glamour, our two charming and attractive ladies from last week. 

    I clambered out of bed. Wow it was chilly. I flicked on the fan heater. Nothing. I picked up the fan heater and shook it. Surprisingly, still nothing. I flipped on the kettle. Nothing. No light. No power. I then checked the fuse box, no power coming in. The camp site had no electricity. Now I can't speak for the rest of Spain but this is not that uncommon down here. At least once a week we are plunged into darkness. A couple of weeks ago the power annoyingly flipped on and off for a whole evening, I can't say I can remember this anywhere else in Spain.

    Hazel hears me tutting, switching stuff on and off and generally banging around.

    “Is there no power?” she asked.

    “No” I reply. I then hear a muffled expletive coming out from under the covers. The type a soldier might use when he accidentally discharges his weapon and realises his just blown his mates foot off. No matter how you slice it, women don't like to be cold. There’s nothing I can do but boil some water in a saucepan for a cuppa, which I do. I switch on the van radio. I have this, as yet, unproven theory which states: you'll feel warmer if you listen to music, it takes your mind off it. Nothing. I then switch it on and off several times as if this might remind it what it's supposed to do when someone does this. Still nothing. Now I'm confused. No electricity in the Spanish national grid, OK, I can get my brain around that but the van radio not coming on either? that runs off the car battery.

    Logic dictates one of two things have happened. The van battery has decided to die on the very morning the Spanish have forgotten how to make electricity, which seems extraordinary unlikely and too much of a coincidence to be true. Or, and this is far more likely, we are under attack from aliens who, in the first wave of their attack, have stopped charged atoms from travelling along electricity cables.

    The up side of that is. I'll not need those bloody ink cartridges after all.






 Wednesday 5rd February 2014 week 137 Spain

    Mind games

    Sorry I was going to ask you what kind of weekend you had yesterday, well Monday really, I got sidetracked. The power, by the way, came back on at 3pm. Apparently I owe an apology to Spanish power. They were pruning trees locally and cut the power as a safety precaution. There was a notice posted on the camp-site face book page to this effect but when they killed the power that also killed the internet so no one could read it, well done.

    OK well our weekend was champion, even though the temperature plummeted. I say plummeted but it wasn't like cold cold!. No, it just wasn't 60 plus. More like 50 plus..... tell you what, I'll shut up about the weather shall I?

Trafalgar light house (just a nice pic)

    Well on Saturday evening we won the bar quiz, at least the team we were in did. There’s a old lady here, charming and unassuming, what she did in her previous incarnation as a tax payer I've no idea but the women is a walking oracle, there's little she doesn’t know. Whichever team she is in, wins. It's a standing joke. The quiz is really a fight to come second. So we were surprised when we came joint first with her team. The outcome hinged on this tie break question. 'In a straight line what’s the distance between Lands end and John'o'Groats'. Now, to be fair, up to that point, I hadn't been at the top of my game. I nearly knew a lot of the answers but nearly knowing isn't the same thing. However, for some inexplicable reason I just happened to know the answer. It's one of those totally useless facts my brain seems to have absorbed quite independently from any conscious effort on my part. It must have entered my brain while I was doing something quite unrelated and attached itself to a spare synaptic nerve. Normally I have trouble remembering quite basic stuff. Stuff you really should know, such as peoples names for example. I once bumped into a chap who I use to work with. He called me Phil, I called him mate, simply because I'd forgot who he was. I've no chance with birthday dates as I've previously pointed out. Phone numbers, even my own, I’ve long since given up trying to remember. I don't even know the registration of this van nor our scooter. Someone recently said to me, in an effort to make me feel better, it's an age thing Phil don't worry'. No its not. I couldn't remember sod all when I was a kid. I'd be sent to the shops with a note with one item on it. “Nip and get a bag of sugar” my mum would ask. I'd come back with a packet of tea fingers. I'm probably an idiot savant, gifted in other areas. I just need to discover what they are. I often say, on the topic of my memory,: There’s three things I can never remember. One is...............................urm. Hang on, .................... urm...........tell you what make it four. Its quite amusing when you do it, in the flesh, try it. Anyway we won the contest and the handsome twenty Euros first prize money.

    On Saturday while in the bar spending our twenty Euros prize money we agreed to form a band with two other couples. Interestingly alcohol played no part in the discussion. We're calling ourselves Unwired. This because we play acoustically, i.e we don’t plug ourselves into the mains. Between us there are three guitarists, one harmonica player, an accordion player and we all have a bash at singing. Its not so much a band more an orchestra!. The good thing about this band is that we're all amateurs, so the musical bar is set quite low. We're planning to kick off the St Valentines day party at the bar with a dozen love songs. We on first. Its the best slot. We can then have a few beers and bit of a jig after.

    PS your all welcome.





 Thursday 6th February 2014 week 137 Spain

    Good news, bad news and then a bit more good news.

    Since you ask, yes we're in a band, and yes I did say we wouldn't be in another one. As much as we enjoyed our involvement in one the last couple of years, playing with guys who were semi pros was, for a camp-site guitarist like myself, tough going. So why are we in another one?. Good question. Well the new band, Unwired, is more your workers co-operative. Its fashioned on good socialist principals. One musician, one vote. We all contributed to the set. We do bugger all till we've discussed it every which way and then taken a vote. Ok, we don’t actually take a vote, that would be silly, but its a collective vote with a nod of the head. Everyone in the band sings so we've a whole Mamas & Papas vibe going on, I think, remains to be seen I guess.

    Ok that's the good news this is the bad.

    This is our last year on the road. ahhhhhh......Yes I know its sad. We originally planned to do this for a couple of years before returning to proper grown up adult lives. But it took on a momentum of its own and here we are three years later looking at a fourth.

    We've met many people over the last three years, both British and European that have chosen this gypsy lifestyle as a permanent way of life. They've sold their homes and are in the process of spending their kids inheritance funding their wanderings around Europe. Sure, there’s a lot than can be said for it. But it also has it's draw backs. The main one being its not actually a way of life, as such. Its just something you do. It's a little like when your nineteen year old son tells you he's going to bum around Europe for a couple of years, you immediately worry the boy's lost all direction and in response you come up with a hundred reasons why he shouldn't. Interesting fact here, that between one UK Census and another, a million young men go missing, not literally, figuratively. It's supposed they take off, meet a girl and don’t bother to come back.

    Now I don't want to knock anyone, and each to their own, but some need more. People do an awful lot of sitting, chewing the cud and popping beers. Well if that suits them and they are happy doing that then great, good luck to 'em. But I feel I have to be doing something, what im not exactly sure yet. I can't while away the days sitting on my arse. If I hadn't hit on writing this diary I may have called it a day a lot sooner, its helped to keep me sane. (That’s open for debate. Ed).

Our intended route.

    The good news is I have worked out this last years route and just like last years trip we will be exploring new lands -least to us- and new people. We are back in the UK in April to get the vehicles serviced and MOT'd. We also need to remind friends and family we still exist, I'm sure some of them think we have fallen off the edge of the world. We also need to stock up, so I'm told, with Oxo cubes, Bisto, Piccalilli, T-bags and Golden Syrup for which Europe, sadly, has no equivalent. We will then set off, mid May, on our final journey across Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and into Greece. Least that’s the plan but it does all rather hinge on the sat nav. By the time we arrive in Greece at Christmas we would have seen some thirty six countries in total in Europe.




 Friday 7th February 2014. Week 136. Spain

    What’s on my mind

    First: Note to self: Must get a grown up to help me with dates and the bloody names for the days of the week. Right. Duly noted. Ok, now you'll remember I wrote a while ago about the possible shape of the world in fifty years, yes? Good. Now I missed out one important factor, and frankly, the most worrying, the Chinese.

    Do you know the ratio of men to women in the UK? No, well it's close on 50%. Not, I think you'll agree, an amazing fact. Interestingly this ratio is about the same in almost all European countries. Now that’s perhaps a little more interesting but still hardly startling. In fact, if you don't mess around with the 'coming and going' of us humans the law of averages, and nature, dictates that 50/50 is the proper ratio of men v women, it just works out that way. Conveniently then, for every Jack, there appears to be a Jill.

    China however, has a history of interfering with the natural order of such things and consequently there are now 32 million more young men under the age of 20 than there are girls, a fact which might not concern you but does them. Imagine the difficulty in just finding someone to love, something so basic to us all. Imagine wanting a family and knowing the odds are stacked against you. Would I want to be a eighteen year old Chinaman? not for all the tea in ............well, China.

You don't need to spend thousands on a motorhome.

    I've mentioned before, in the 60's, experts predicted the UK population would double by the turn of the century. Well in true expert style they ended up with egg on their faces. Missed it by about 40 million. It's risen by just 12 million,. And its worth pointing out that when they made that prediction they never factored in the unforeseen rise in immigration. The other factor they missed completely was, affluence. The more affluent we became the fewer children we wanted to share that affluence with, children stopped us having things. Its perhaps harsh, but none the less true. At roughly the same time, in China, the rise in affluence has made little dent in their predictions. In 1953 there were 583 million Chinese. Today that number has almost tripled to 1,344,130,000, and that's in just sixty years, and with draconian birth control laws. It shows little signs of slowing. Each year 18 million babies are born in China. That's 360 million per generation. The population has perhaps reached critical mass. A point where nothing can stop it, even laws which forbid couples having more than one child.

    If you take the present population of China and apply a simple mathematical formula, based on their growth over the last sixty years, you'll discover that its only a matter of time before there are only people of Chinese decent left on the planet, already one in seven of us are Chinese. There's will be the dominant gene in the gene pool mix of humanity, nature will do the rest. There's a theory, not mine, which states that if you put a white ball in a box full of black balls, the white will, over time, become black also. Nature abhors anomalies.

    China's growing population figures has one other worrying implication for the planet. Its not surprising that health experts are again warning us of a pandemic of avian flu originating in China. The most recent just a few days ago. This new strain has been seen to jump between people which is a worrying development. Trouble is when you get 1,344,130,000, people living on top of each other you create the perfect environment for nature to engineer new virus's in the hope of levelling the playing field.

    Have a good weekend.



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